Leigh, the imam of the Kanifing Estate Mosque, has been the target of criticisms and controversy since the pronouncement of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), advising government to take legal and other measures to protect human rights and equal treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons in the country – a recommendation that sparked national criticism.
Prominent among his critics was the former Presidential Affairs Minister Momodou Sabally, who called on Imam Baba Leigh and the entire commissioners to immediately resign from the National Human Rights Commission.
“I never and will never ask or advise the president to protect the rights of gays, lesbians and others. I don’t like it and will never support gay and lesbian rights,” Imam Leigh said in an audio obtained by The Point.
Imam Leigh, who succumbed to the pressure of criticism from Gambians, said that he had no powers to forbid or permit the right of gays and lesbians as only God does.
“I have no powers to forbid or permit the rights of gays, only God can do that. I am apologising to anyone who is offended about this; and I have also forgiven anyone who willingly criticised me on the issue of gay and lesbian rights in the country.”
According to Imam Baba Leigh, his first task as part of his responsibilities at the commission is mediation and reconciliation. His second task, he added, is to tour detention centers across the country.
“Part of my responsibility is to help the commission in terms of advice in the area of religion when they need it.”
“People alleged that I went to President Adama Barrow to advise him to strongly protect the rights of gays, bisexuals, transgender and lesbians. This is not true. This is an act that no Muslim will support and I will never and ever support such act.”
He added that the commission’s mandate was to protect the rights of people and not to legislate any law.
“This commission cannot legalise anything and anything that is to be legalised, forbidden and permitted come from God.”