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Two Senegalese Men Get 6 Months in Prison for Being Gay

SenegalTwo men in Senegal were sentenced to six months in prison each, for being gay, the AP reports:

The two were arrested after neighbors alerted police to their home in Grand Medine neighborhood of Dakar, the capital.

In court Friday the two men acknowledged having sex. Judge Racky Deme sentenced them under Senegal's penal code that calls for prison sentences of up to five years and fines of up to $3,000 for committing "an improper or unnatural act with a person of the same sex."

Last June, President Obama visited Senegal on a trip to Africa and spoke out about the country's criminalization of homosexuality.

Said Obama: "People should be treated equally."

President Mack Sall of Senegal replied: “We are still not ready to decriminalize homosexuality. I’ve already said it in the past. We’re still not ready to change the law. This does not mean that we are all homophobic.”

That position was echoed by Senegal's Justice Minister Sidiki Kaba in September.

In November, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that persecuted gays in Uganda, Senegal, and Sierra Leone have grounds for asylum in the European Union.


Four 'Suspected Lesbians' Freed in Senegal for Lack of Evidence

Four of five women arrested last week for being "suspected "lesbians"in Senegal have been released, Voice of America reports:

SenegalFour women accused of violating Senegal’s harsh anti-gay law have been freed, after a court found there was not enough evidence against them.  But activists say the outcome will do little to ease pressure on the West African country’s embattled gay community.  
 
The four suspects in Wednesday’s case were arrested in the early morning hours of November 11 during a birthday party at a restaurant in Dakar’s Yoff district.  A fifth woman arrested in the same raid is a minor and so will have her case processed separately.
 
Police who conducted the raid later testified the women were kissing in public, something they strenuously denied at the time and when they appeared in court earlier this week.

Homosexual acts in Senegal are punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $3,000.


Five 'Suspected Lesbians' Arrested in Senegal, Face Possible Prison Time

The Senegalese government has arrested five "suspected lesbians", the AP reports:

SenegalThe five women were detained early Monday morning during a birthday party at a restaurant in Dakar’s Yoff district that has been described in the Senegalese press as a meeting point for gay men and lesbians, said Ndeye Kebe, president of the activist group Women’s Smile.

The women cannot afford a lawyer though they are expected to appear in court on Tuesday, the AP adds:

Senegal’s penal code calls for prison sentences of up to five years and fines of up to $3,000 for committing “an improper or unnatural act with a person of the same sex.” Since 2008, the Muslim-majority country has been gripped by what Human Rights Watch describes as an anti-gay “moral panic,” with arrests and mob justice on the rise.

One of the women arrested is an assistant director at Women's Smile, a Senegalese group that advocates for LGBT rights.

Here's the report in Senegalese media.

Last June, President Obama visited Senegal on a trip to Africa and spoke out about the country's criminalization of homosexuality.

Said Obama: "People should be treated equally."

President Mack Sall of Senegal replied: “We are still not ready to decriminalize homosexuality. I’ve already said it in the past. We’re still not ready to change the law. This does not mean that we are all homophobic.”

That position was echoed by Senegal's Justice Minister Sidiki Kaba in September.

Last week, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that persecuted gays in Uganda, Senegal, and Sierra Leone have grounds for asylum in the European Union.


European Court of Human Rights: Persecuted Gays from Africa Have Grounds for Asylum

Africa

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that persecuted gays in African have grounds for asylum, offering an opinion in a case brought by The Netherlands concerning three gay citizens from Uganda, Senegal, and Sierra Leone, the BBC reports:

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) says asylum can be granted in cases where people are actually jailed for homosexuality in their home country. ECJ rulings apply to all EU members.

Homosexual acts are illegal in most African countries, including key Western allies such as Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya and Botswana. In June a report by Amnesty International said homophobic attacks had reached dangerous levels in sub-Saharan Africa and must stop.

The ECJ judgment on Thursday was a response to the Dutch Council of State, a top advisory body, which had asked whether homosexuals could be considered a "particular social group" and whether criminalisation and possible imprisonment amounted to persecution.

The ECJ says laws specifically targeting homosexuals do make them a separate group. But it is up to the national authorities - in this case the Netherlands - to determine "whether, in the applicant's country of origin, the term of imprisonment... is applied in practice".


Senegal's Justice Minister Not Ready to Decriminalize Homosexuality

Senegal's new Justice Minister Sidiki Kaba said he's not yet ready to decriminalize homosexuality, AFP reports:

KabaAs head of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Kaba fought to reform a law outlawing gay relationships, but he told reporters in Dakar on Thursday he had dropped his opposition to prosecuting gays.

“I am a minister of justice who works in the context of a government and who expresses his views through those of the head of state which apply to all those who serve under him,” Kaba was quoted by media outlets as saying at a press briefing.

Kaba's stance on human rights follows whatever organization he happens to be working for, apparently:

Kaba, who has a long history with the FIDH, having been elected as its chairman in 2001, called for the legalisation of homosexuality in a 2009 interview with television station France 24 which was picked up by several local media outlets.

“I was expressing (the position) of my organisation,” Kaba told local press on Thursday when asked about the quote.

Senegal's punishment for homosexuality is five years in prison.


Amnesty International Official Criticizes Obama For Likely Dodge On LGBT Issues During Africa Trip

You may recall that President Obama is in Africa this week.

PresidentThe Associated Press wondered if Obama would bring up gay rights during his first presidential visit to the continent —something especially pressing considering today's U.S. Supreme Court rulings in favor of gay marriage and the fact that 38 countries in sub-Saharan Africa now have laws criminalizing homosexuality.

At a panel this week hosted by the Advocacy Network for Africa, Adotei Akwei — Amnesty International's Managing Director for Government Relations — criticized the president for his likely focus on economic issues rather than on issues regarding women's rights, the environment or LGBT oppression.

The President would have a lot to speak about if he chose to address Africa's gay rights record. This year alone, Nigerian legislators passed a law to imprison gays, Uganda jailed a British playwright for staging the country's first gay-themed play, Zimbabwe's Prime Minister publicly denounced homosexuality and several teenage South African boys died due to abuse at a gay conversion camp.

UPDATE: Following a bilateral meeting and joint press conference with President Macky Sall of Senegal, Obama is making some remarks.

NBC's Chuck Todd reports on Twitter: "Senegal criminalizes homosexuality. POTUS says while personal views and religious customs shd be respected, a STATE shd treat people equally...POTUS says Senegal's treatment of gays did NOT come up in the bilateral meeting."

However, Obama did comment on yesterday's DOMA rulings, Todd reports: "POTUS calls SCOTUS decisions on Prop. 8 and DOMA a "victory" for democracy.  "One more step" toward basic principles of equality..."We have to comb through every federal statute" regarding how to administratively apply the DOMA ruling."

UPDATE II: More on the exchange from the Washington Times.

“People should be treated equally,” Mr. Obama said Thursday at a press conference in Dakar, Senegal, on the first full day of his three-nation tour of the continent. He said although people have differing views about homosexuality, the laws of African nations must grant all people equal protection, regardless of sexual orientation.

That view was promptly rejected by President Macky Sall of Senegal, who was sharing the stage with Mr. Obama.
“We are still not ready to decriminalize homosexuality,” Mr. Sall said. “I’ve already said it in the past. We’re still not ready to change the law. This does not mean that we are all homophobic.”


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