Gambia's President Al Hadji Yahya Jammeh
Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh has often condemned homosexuality publiclyREUTERS

The Gambian parliament has passed a bill that criminalises homosexuality and punishes gay people with life imprisonment.

According to the new piece of legislation, gay Gambians can be charged with "aggravated homosexuality" if they have a homosexual relationship with someone younger than 18, or if they are affected by HIV and have homosexual relations.

"A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality is liable on conviction to imprisonment [for] life," said one section of the bill, which is yet to be signed into law by President Yahya Jammeh.

In February, Jammeh sparked a global outcry when he compared homosexuals to "vermin".

"We will fight these vermin called homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes, if not more aggressively," he said in a speech on state television to mark the 49th anniversary of Gambia's independence from Britain, reported Reuters.

However, it is not the first time that Jammeh has expressed his homophobic views.

As reported by Towleroad, in a public statement in 2013, Jammeh said: "Homosexuality is anti-humanity. I have never seen [a] homosexual chicken, or turkey. If you are convicted of homosexuality in this country, there will be no mercy for offenders. We will put you in the female wing of the prison."

Later that year, Jammeh labelled homosexuality as one of the three "biggest threats to human existence".

He used his address to say that homosexuality, along with greed and obsession with world domination, was "more deadly than all natural disasters put together".

Gambia is not the only African country to have anti-homosexuality laws

Other African countries have recently implemented laws which criminalise homosexuality.

In Nigeria, the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2013, signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014, imposes prison sentences of up to 14 years on those who are found guilty of being involved in gay organisations. Gays who publicly demonstrate their sexuality can be jailed for 10 years.

In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni passed an anti-homosexuality bill in February that sees life imprisonment for gay sex and same-sex marriage.

In Cameroon, its penal code states: "Any person who has sexual relations with a person of the same sex shall be punished with a term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of between 20,000 and 200,000 francs [£25-£250]."

According to NGO Human Rights Watch, Cameroon brings more cases against people who are suspected to be gay than any other African country.