Senegal Hub

Will Obama Speak Out About Gay Rights in Africa?

President Obama is visiting Africa next month. The AP wonders if anti-gay human rights abuses on the continent and/or the SCOTUS marriage cases will play any role in his dialogue with the countries he will visit:

SenegalHomosexuality is considered a criminal offense in many African nations, including Senegal and Tanzania, two of the countries Obama will visit. South Africa, the third country on the president's itinerary, has broad protections for homosexuals and is the only African country to legalize gay marriage.


"If the timing works out so that he's there, it may provide a perfect opportunity for him to speak out about the principles we value in our democracy and how we would hope that others follow it," said Socarides, who worked in the White House during the Clinton administration.

Two of the countries Obama will visit outlaw homosexuality:

According to the State Department's 2012 human rights report on Tanzania, consensual same-sex sexual conduct is illegal and carries a prison sentence of 30 years to life. The report also concluded that gays and lesbians face "societal discrimination that restricted their access to health care, housing and employment" and that there were no government efforts to combat such discrimination.

Conditions are similar in Senegal, according to the State Department. The agency's 2012 human rights report on the West African nation says consensual same-sex activity, referred to in the law as an "act against nature," is a criminal offense.

And, Nigeria, as you may know, yesterday passed a law that would jail gays for up to 14 years for a variety of offenses.

Gay Senegalese Man Fears for Life Over Britain Deportation Threats

An ongoing case in which Britain is telling a Senegalese man he must prove he's gay or be deported back to his home country where he faces violence highlights "the injustices faced by those seeking asylum," according to a UK National Union of Students leader.

MbengueThe Guardian reports:

Serigne Tacko Mbengue, who studies at Newham College in east London, and is a LGBT campaigner for the NUS, fled to the UK in 2008 to escape homophobic persecution. But the 26-year-old is still going through the appeal process four years later because the Home Office doesn't believe he is gay.

Around 40 supporters turned up outside his hearing in London on Wednesday, only for the case to be adjourned for the second time in three months. It was rescheduled due to new evidence revealing physical and emotional scars from two attacks he suffered in Senegal because of his sexuality.

The west African state remains a dangerous place for homosexuals — anyone caught will face a prison sentence of up to five years.

Mbengue says: "I'm a very outspoken gay man. I'm not going back to Senegal. If I do, I will be a dead body."

AIDS Spreading In Senegalese Prisons

Picture 20Senegal, with its Sufi Muslim majority, has one of the lowest incidences of AIDS in Africa, largely due to successful condom and needle distribution progrms. But the disease is rampant among gay men, with infection rates as high as 22%, according to AIDSAlliance -- and according to Catholic Online, the disease is spreading unchecked in the nation's prisons.

The reasons are religious, naturally. A Catholic Online reporter asked Assane Balde, the chief medical officer at Camp Penal, one of Sengal's largest prisons, whether free needles and condoms might be made available to inmates. (Yes, it's a weird question for a Catholic reporter to ask, but never mind.) From Catholic Online:

... Balde is steadfastly opposed. He says they do not have problems with hard drugs and a condom distribution program would simply not be tolerated.

"Our religion doesn't permit this," Balde says. "We are Muslims, and as Muslims we don't like seeing that. There is no tolerance for this type of behavior. It's a taboo subject, and we don't even talk about it."

In nearby Ivory Coast, a recent study of a prison found that 28% of inmates are HIV positive, while the infection rate in the general population is just 7%. In South Africa, where the general infection rate is 12%, rates of infection in prisons are 40 - 45%. There is no mandatory testing in Senegalese prisons, so although it's known that prisoners are becoming ill in increasing numbers, no statistics are available. But if even Senegalese medical officers refuse to discuss the issue, the numbers, whatever they are, can only get worse.

Occupy Wall Street Goes Global

2011-10-15_134411Today's maybe the biggest day yet for Occupy Wall Street, with events breaking out in 87 countries, including Andorra, Luxembourg, Iceland, and Senegal. Senegal!

According to CNN, the protestors' demands are typically, hearteningly anarchic. In South Korea, a protestor expressed solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street Movement, claimed to have no particular beef with the leadership in Seoul, and suggested his demonstration seeks redress for "economic problems worldwide." In Indonesia, an honest-to-goodness Communist named Rudi Daman declaimed a harsher message at a protest outside the American embassy in Jakarta:

We wanted to show that the American regime, its system of imperialism needs to be destroyed.

Yikes. Think that'll get quoted on Fox?

Happily, most protestors, even on the other side of the globe, seem to have tenderer feelings towards the United States. And despite the world's grim economic situation, seemingly inevitable slide towards geopolitical instability, and generally frowny outlook on just about everything ... doesn't there seem to be something kind of giddy about these protests? Something ... jubilant? Hopeful, even? Lookit all those smiles breaking out at Occupy Tokyo, AFTER THE JUMP... 

Continue reading "Occupy Wall Street Goes Global" »

Mobs in Senegal Dig Up Dead Gays, Desecrate the Bodies

Back in May 2009 I posted about the body of a man suspected to be gay which was exhumed from a cemetery in Senegal because people didn't want it buried there. Madieye Diallo's (pictured) body was reportedly dumped in front of the family home. Diallo died because his health failed when he stopped taking his HIV medication. He had stopped taking the medication because he was in hiding during an anti-gay witchhunt after photos of a gay wedding were published in a local tabloid.

Senegal A new article by the AP revisits that story and reports that gays continue to be exhumed in that country, and their bodies desecrated:

"To the long list of abuse meted out to suspected homosexuals in Africa, Senegal has added a new form of degradation - the desecration of their bodies. In the past two years, at least four men suspected of being gay have been exhumed by angry mobs in cemeteries in Senegal. The violence is especially shocking because Senegal, unlike other countries in the region, is considered a model of tolerance. 'It's jarring to see this happen in Senegal,' says Ryan Thoreson, a fellow at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission who has been researching the rise of homophobia here. 'When something like this happens in an established democracy, it's alarming.' Even though homosexuality is illegal in Senegal, colonial documents indicate the country has long had a clandestine gay community."

Senegal  As for what happened to Diallo, the exhumation and desecration of his body was captured on video and posted online:

"The shaky image shows a group of men jerking around the edges of the grave. One of them straddles the pit and shovels away the fine gray dirt until you can see the shrouded body. It's still inside the trough when they tie a rope around its feet. They yank it out, cheering as the body bends over the lip of the grave. The shroud catches on the ground and tears off, revealing the dead man's torso. Rassul Djitte, 48, watched from behind the wall of a nearby school. He had not known Diallo personally, but says he felt a stab. "'People were rejoicing,' he says. 'They dragged him past me and his body left tracks in the sand. Like a car passing through snow.'"

Senegal Arrests, Releases 24 Men for 'Homosexual Activity'

The men have been released but are under investigation:

Senegal "Officers arrested the men on December 24 at a house in the seaside resort of Saly, 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of Dakar, for allegedly engaging in homosexual acts and holding an unauthorised party, the police source said. They were released the next day but police are continuing their investigations, the source added. 'They can be called in again at any time. The two organisers were questioned today to see if there is anything to follow up with in this case,' the source said. The source said officers found condoms, lubricants, wigs and makeup when they raided the house in Saly where the party is said to have taken place. Homosexuality is a crime in largely Muslim Senegal and carries a jail sentence of up to five years."

The AFP reports, however, that "Senegalese Foreign Minister Madicke Niang on December 10 said there is 'no question that homosexuality will be decriminalised in Senegal.'"

Two Teens Convicted, One on Trial for Gay Sex Charges in Senegal [tr]
In Senegal, They Don't Even Tolerate Dead Gays [tr]
Court Overturns Sentences of Gay Men Jailed in Senegal [tr]


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