Post submitted with contributions from Molly Aronso
Alagie Jammeh, a distant nephew of vehemently anti-LGBTQ Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, has been granted political asylum in the United States.
In September 2014, Jammeh posted a Facebook status asserting that, “No one should be denied their basic fundamental human rights because of their sexuality.” Homosexuality is against the law in The Gambia, and “violators” can face life in prison. President Jammeh has threatened to personally “slit the throats” of gay men in his country.
After his pro-equality Facebook post, Alagie immediately received threats from Gambian officials. By November that year, the government revoked his scholarship to study at the University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB), and he was struggling to get by at the school.
HRC honored Alagie last year on Human Rights Day for his support of the LGBTQ community and courage as an ally.
By accepting political asylum, Alagie can never return to The Gambia where he would face imprisonment or even death. He stated that he would miss his country, but that, above all, " did this because it was the right thing to do." Alagie has faced many issues with anti-LGBTQ people in The Gambia tracking his comments, but he stands by what he believes in.
Alagie has made incredible sacrifices as a vocal ally to the LGBTQ community, including losing the financial support for school he was receiving from the Gambian government. Even when he was forced to skip meals and live out of his car, he maintained a high GPA at UCSB. Alagie stated that his ultimate goal is to work for the United Nations and become a human rights advocate for people all around the world. With political asylum in the U.S., he is one step closer to achieving that goal.
"I will continue to advocate for LGBTQ rights especially in the Gambia, Africa and around the world. LGBTQ rights are not special rights, they are human rights. Period,” he told HRC. “[LGBT people] just want to be treated with respect and dignity like other citizens."
HRC commends Alagie for his commitment to the LGBTQ community and congratulates him on being granted asylum.