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Gambia leader approves law that would jail some gays for life

President of Gambia Al Hadji Yahya Jammeh addresses the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly September 25, 2014 at the United Nations in New York. .
President of Gambia Al Hadji Yahya Jammeh addresses the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly September 25, 2014 at the United Nations in New York. . DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

DAKAR, Senegal – Gambia’s president has signed a bill into law that calls for life imprisonment for some homosexual acts.

The Associated Press received a copy of the approved bill on Friday. It is dated Oct. 9, but Gambian officials have not previously acknowledged that President Yahya Jammeh, one of Africa’s most vocal anti-gay leaders, signed it into law.

The law contains language identical to anti-gay legislation in Uganda that was overturned by a court earlier this year on procedural grounds.

Gambia’s law criminalizes “aggravated homosexuality,” which applies to “serial offenders” and people living with HIV or AIDS. People found guilty of aggravated homosexuality can be sentenced to life in prison.

Confirmation of the new law comes amid a new wave of homosexuality-related arrests targeting at least eight people since Nov. 7.

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