To poison a nation, poison its stories and narratives. A demoralized nation tells demoralized stories and narratives of its identity. Anything that affects our perception of the world usually comes in the form of stories and narratives. We must be aware of the stories and narratives that we imbibe with foreign cultures and ideologies.

Baba Leigh wants to influence public policy through personal emotion in politics without emotional intelligence. He advocates gays and lesbians and having a law that promotes the LGBT community having a public opinion in this country. Baba Leigh appears to support people who do not cover their pelvic area and mammary glands, so Gambians should be suspicious of him as well as the LGBT project he and his colleagues represent. 

He quotes holy scriptures in his sermons on the social media mountain and his pulpit, propagating the LGBT agenda, shrouded in faith and human rights.

Gambians should not let people like Baba Leigh touch national policy in this country. There is no point in having a university degree when you still reason like my village bedbug. 

University education and global awareness of matters are supposed to replace an empty mind with an open one and not the other way around.

In the last two decades, I have changed my views on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues and on homosexuality in general to polite indifference. 

Even though I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman, I do not support the violation of human rights under any pretense. The Republic of the Gambia is a republic that worships God. 

Godliness is supposed to be our way of life in this country. I do not know what it means to be LGBT imam advocate.

Moreover, what  moral authority and audacity does Baba Leigh have to speak in support of or on behalf of the LGBT community in the country. 

However, it is foolhardy to hide behind faith and human rights doctrines as the number one factor in your defense concerning homosexuality and same-sex marriages in the Gambia. 

Baba Leigh acts like he is the messenger God promised to send us, lecturing Gambians on homosexuality and lumping it in with his love-based personal opinions to represent just a section of Gambians, stretching his small powers too far.

It is amusing how we simplistically point out that homosexuality is a product of foreign powers and influences and, therefore, should be shunned. It is indeed true, as manifested by recent developments, that there is an increasingly opportunistic foreign hand around this LBTG project. 

Moreover, that hand will strategically engulf whoever shows some local popularity.

The irony, though, is that, even while we selectively choose to focus on the LGBT project as a western project, we often fail to add that even the National Human Rights Commission and some of its members are western/international projects in a significant way. They are engulfed on all sides.

President Adama Barrow and his government are currently shifting allegiance and servitude to China because of the rising fall-out with the West. 

China is his new begging spot, and nothing is free. When citizens criticize him and his government, he is not moved. However, when donors speak, his tone changes. If you think he is on his own, ask him to criticize homosexuality again, as he did earlier. Why are they silent about it now, after donors threatened to withdraw aid?

The reason why the Western voice adds to the strength of the LGBT project is that, as we heard that lawyer Emmanuel Daniel Joof and Imam Baba Leigh paternalistically advocate and propagate on behalf of the project (as by suspending foreign aid and other support), the LGBT project in the Gambia is also on the lap of the West. 

Even if you were to refer back to before Baba Leigh (Imam Baba Leigh now, figuratively) became a member of the NHRC while in exile, where were most of his financial and material supports? Were they only in America and Europe?

While everyone has been pointing fingers at the Supreme Court, most of the recent issues that jolted the nation’s conscience— mob lynching on social media, minority rights, human rights abuses, police bestiality and brutality, etc.—are all issues that, ideally, should have been taken up suo moto by the National Human Rights Commission.

The NHRC is a statutory body with sufficient authority to intervene and issue directions. However, sadly, it has not played the role it was meant to play. The nation sorely needs the NHRC to step up and be a watchdog for human rights in the Gambia and prevent abuses of both commission and omission.

The NHRC cannot be reduced to a sinecure for retired and sidelined persons. If its independence and autonomy are compromised by its administrative ministry being the Justice Department, then it is time to change that. A credible and effective Human Rights Commission is indispensable for our democracy.

Moreover, where are most of those propagating the LGBT project’s funding coming from? Let us not pretend to be free in our begging position. The age-old principle remains: “beggars can’t be choosers.” 

It is in the dream world that one begs with dignity. With our current international relations, the odds are such that it is almost impossible to have an independent Gambian president. 

It is only a difference of where one or the other begs and how much homosexuality is an otherness that is the reality for some people. We would do well within the confines of our moral imagination to not violate their fundamental rights as human beings and not allow it to germinate in the Gambia.

Despite the pockets of support the gay lobby enjoys, we must acknowledge that the Gambian gay lobby overreached on the gay agenda. They imported the pressure tactic that worked very well in Europe and America to the Gambia, and they deserve the rotten egg thrown on their faces. 

America did not become tolerant of gays by fire or by force; it was gradual. America’s intolerance of homosexuality melted away gradually. It turned the corner when the 81 million influential millennials (children born between 1992–2002), who do not care about anyone’s sexual preference, started coming of age.

By contrast, Gambians are profoundly religious and very conservative. In this country, Christians and Muslims are given to traditional mores that teach homosexuality as an evil that should be punishable by death. The Pew Research Center, in a survey of 39 nations, established that Gambians are the least tolerant of gays. Ninety-eight percent of the respondents surveyed agreed that society must reject homosexuality. Given the disposition of this ultra-majority against homosexuality, was it wise to push the gay agenda in such a wholesale imitation of the American gay coalition method? 

It is prudent to understand the history and appreciate how long it took America, with all its democratic structures, to become more tolerant of gays.

Like many others on homosexuality, my earliest views are shaped by religion and inherent repulsiveness in humans when confronted with a remarkable otherness. 

With the Gambia being what it is, we must not fold our hands and watch people get arrested, lynched, or killed for being gay while ritual murderers and looters who deserve to be hanged roam free. We must reject the violation of anyone’s right of expression and association, and we must not support it. 

It is an open secret that many influential Gambians are gay or bisexual. This law will not affect rich people. The ones who will suffer the punishment prescribed by this law are the poor gays, the unknowns. The rich and powerful can have sex in posh hotels and well-appointed apartments in posh neighborhoods, without any bother from law enforcement. 

The gay lobby in the Gambia will be better served, going forward, by using a little-by-little approach and refraining from the argument that homosexuality is an orientation that people are born with, like hair and eye color. It will hold no water for Gambians. Gambians do not believe in Darwinian or nebulous scientific logic. Gambians will tout their holy books far better than any American Christian Right fanatic could. 

I believe the genetics argument hurts the cause of LGBT people everywhere because it implies that since people are born that way, being gay is reasonable and morally acceptable. The problem with the genetics argument is that whatever tendency we might be born with must be considered normal. 

This “normality” includes serial murder, stealing, lying, hate, covetousness, pedophilia, addiction, rape, and so on. 

As a consequence, there are two holes in the genetics-based argument. If sexual orientation is inherited, monozygotic twins (identical twins who share the same genetic information) should exhibit the highest correlation for same-sex preference. Accordingly, half-siblings and unrelated siblings should have the lowest correlation. 

Unfortunately, in several studies, the sampled universe of research data has shown no significant remote correlation. Instead, studies established that if same-sex preference has a genetic component at all, it is overwhelmed by other factors “in specific and circumscribed social structures.” 

In like manner, one can argue that, because homosexuality does not produce offspring, the homosexual genetic component in the human genome would die off. It has not happened yet.

Second, if being born gay means homosexuality is morally acceptable, one can argue that homophobia must also be morally acceptable as an “orientation.” 

After all, heterosexuality and its accompanying homophobia, expressed, have more claim to genetic basis because heterosexual behaviour produces offspring that transmit the homophobic genetic code while homosexual behavior does not.

Will it be acceptable, then, if heterosexuals argue in favor of homophobia as an “orientation” that is genetic, if they tout it as normal behavior, insist that it is not subject to disapproval, argue that homophobia must have civil rights protection and be given prominence as acceptable behavior in schools and the media? 

Will it be okay if straight people label homosexuals who accuse them of being homophobic as heterophobic? Should pedophiles, who consort with young boys, be considered as having a legitimate sexual orientation with its accompanying moral propriety? 

If no, is it not duplicitous to say that only homosexual attraction is genetic and morally right, while pedophilia is not? If so, why the double standard?

This is precisely the reason why I am against dirty content and foreign ideologies. It also is the reason why I am against homosexuality being sold in the Gambia by people who sold their souls to the devil as a way of life. 

It is the reason why I want education to conform to the dominant values of our society. We can celebrate our culture and make great works of art without undermining our Africanness or stifling creativity.

The African story cannot just be about a dark continent bedeviled by poverty, civil strife, and disease. These challenges are real, but Africa is more than conflicts and poverty. Our cultures are vibrant and beautiful. We must resist the narrative that we are children of a lesser god, and that content must be dirty to sell.

We must give our children stories of hope and happiness. We must build self-confidence and tell them through film, music, and general works of art that they are beautifully and wonderfully made. 

Furthermore, we must have content that upholds positive social values such as honesty, hard work, perseverance, and patriotism.

By Alagi Yorro Jallow

The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Gambiana. 

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