In Senegal, deputies want to toughen sanctions against homosexuality

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During a demonstration calling for the criminalization of homosexuality, in Dakar, on May 23, 2021.

Appointment was made at the National Assembly in Dakar. This Wednesday, December 22, the collective And Samm Jikko Yi, founded in particular by the Islamic NGO Jamra, will give a group of deputies a bill whose objective is to toughen the penalties for homosexuality in Senegal. If the initiative enjoys support in a section of public opinion, it worries the LGBT community, already heavily discriminated against.

Currently, article 319 of the Penal Code punishes from one to five years imprisonment any person who commits a crime. “Unnatural act with an individual of his sex”. But the four deputies who carry the new bill want to go further. “The objective is to fight against any perversion in the public space. These people must respect the society in which they live and do whatever they want in private. Freedom has its limits ”, explains Moustapha Guirassy, ​​who participated in writing the text.

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In its current version, it proposes that anyone who has been found guilty of “Lesbianism, homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality, intersexuality, bestiality, necrophilia and other assimilated practices” be punished by a sentence of five to ten years in prison and a fine of 1 to 5 million CFA francs (from 1,524 to 7,622 euros). According to its promoters, the strengthening of criminal sanctions will make the new law dissuasive. “Article 319 does not mention and does not clearly define homosexuality, so it opens a breach for the impunity of those accused”, explains Mame Moctar Gueye, spokesperson for Jamra, who accuses homosexuals of“Invade public space”.

In the text, the definitions of certain terms, such as “lesbians” or “queer”, are imprecise or even false. As for homosexuality, it is put on the same level as bestiality and necrophilia, all considered as sexual deviance. The document could still change in the law commission, recognizes Mame Moctar Gueye: “This text is not definitive, it could be reshaped and rewritten by specialists, but the general spirit will remain. “

“The situation is becoming dramatic”

While the parliamentary process may take a long time even before the text is presented to the plenary assembly, concerns are already acute. Souleymane Diouf (a pseudonym), homosexual exiled in France and representative of the Free Senegal collective, which defends the rights of homosexuals, points mainly to two paragraphs. One provides for the removal of civic, civil and political rights from anyone found guilty. The other punishes the apology of homosexuality “By any means of public dissemination or by funding any activity relating to the LGBT agenda” from three to five years in prison and up to 5 million CFA francs.

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“This means that we, the activists, are targeted. We also fear that the media or NGOs working in the fight against HIV, an epidemic with a high prevalence in the homosexual community, will be condemned by this law ”, alarmed Souleymane Diouf, for whom the vote of this law would be a setback for Senegalese democracy and a questioning of the rule of law.

The activist recalls that this debate has repercussions on access to healthcare and employment for homosexuals: in the face of defamation and threats to which they are the target on a daily basis, the people concerned have to hide more and more. “Homophobia has been growing for several years, the situation is becoming dramatic”, he judges. In May, a march to criminalize homosexuality gathered a large crowd in Dakar and was followed by homophobic acts in the country.

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In Senegal, deputies want to toughen sanctions against homosexuality

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