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Secretary of State John Kerry Responds to Gambian President’s Anti-Gay Remarks

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Thursday Feb 20, 2014
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Secretary of State John Kerry
Secretary of State John Kerry  (Source:AP Photo)

Secretary of State John Kerry released a statement Wednesday condemning Gambian President Yahya Jammeh for calling gay people "vermin" and saying that gays should be exterminated like mosquitos that cause malaria during a speech on state television on Tuesday.

"The United States is deeply troubled by the hateful rhetoric used by President Jammeh in his National Day speech on February 18," Kerry said in his statement. "All people are created equal and should be able to live free from discrimination, and that includes discrimination based on sexual identity and sexual orientation.

"We call on the Government of The Gambia to protect the human rights of all Gambians, and we encourage the international community to send a clear signal that statements of this nature have no place in the public dialogue and are unacceptable," he continued. "Human rights and fundamental freedoms belong to all individuals. The United States stands by you no matter where you are and no matter who you love."

Jammeh made headlines this week after spewing anti-gay rhetoric during a speech on state television to celebrate the 49th anniversary of Gambia’s independence from Britain.

"We will fight these vermins called homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes, if not more aggressively," he said.

A number of Western countries have threatened to cut aid to African countries with anti-gay laws, like Gambia, but Jammeh said he would not give into pressure on LGBT issues.

"We will therefore not accept any friendship, aid or any other gesture that is conditional on accepting homosexuals or LGBT as they are now baptised by the powers that promote them," he said. "As far as I am concerned, LGBT can only stand for Leprosy, Gonorrhoea, Bacteria and Tuberculosis; all of which are detrimental to human existence."

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