This picture taken on January 12, 2012 shows a gay couple, who wish to remain anonymous, who fled deadly persecution in their home country due to their sexual-orientation, during an interview in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are increasingly fleeing across international borders in the East African region came to this urban jungle [Nairobi] seeking anonymity, explained an official running a programme that takes care of such refugees. Some have fled a strict application of Islamic law in Somalia, others are running from general sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and yet others have fled a climate of growing hostility elsewhere in east Africa The official who requested anonimity cites the new anti-homosexuality bill in neighbouring Uganda that touched off a wave of homophobia in neighbouring Uganda as an example of an increasing incidence of openly hostile environment for 'LGBT individuals'. AFP PHOTO/Tony KARUMBA

By Lamin Njie

The Gambia should allow people of the same sex who love each other to marry, a top UN official suggested on Wednesday.

Fabian Salvioli, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, on Wednesday completed a one-week visit to The Gambia to assess measures taken by the Barrow administration in the areas of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence.

At the end of the visit, Mr Salvioli invited journalists to a press conference held at UN House in Cape where he addressed a number of issues including gay marriage which is a criminal offence in The Gambia.

According to Mr Salvioli, “if the decriminalisation [of same-sex marriage] continues, The Gambia has to appear before these bodies [UN Human Rights Council] to receive very clear observations from the international community in that regard.”

Homosexuality is a criminal offence in The Gambia punishable with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. It was first criminalised by former president Yahya Jammeh who had once threatened to decapitate anyone guilty of the lifestyle.

The Barrow administration a few weeks ago informed a high level UN meeting on human rights that it has no plan to decriminalise homosexuality.