Gambia releases Spaniards accused of soliciting sex
BANJUL, Gambia _ Two Spanish men detained in Gambia for allegedly propositioning taxi drivers for sex have been released after five days in jail, a Spanish official said Wednesday.
The men were released late Tuesday and have left the West African country, said Nicola El Busto, an official with Spain’s embassy in Gambia.
The Spaniards were arrested Friday after taxi drivers reported being solicited by them. Homosexual sex is illegal in Gambia, and those convicted of consensual homosexual acts face up to 14 years in prison.
Gambian authorities could not be reached for comment.
Last month, Gambia’s president ordered gays to leave the country and threatened to "cut off the head’’ of anyone found to be gay. President Yahya Jammeh also threatened to close down hotels that rent rooms to gays.
Controversy over homosexuality has been growing across Africa in recent years, with many countries toughening laws against homosexuality even as South Africa legalized gay marriage.
Jammeh’s statements were condemned by international gay rights activists but welcomed by Gambia’s Supreme Islamic Council, which said Jammeh had taken a "principled stand.’’