Senegal: Free the Men Arrested for Homosexuality in Darou Mousty

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Arrests, convictions, and detentions for alleged homosexuality violate the rights to be free from discrimination, to equality before the law, and to privacy.

The Issue:

On June 19, 2009, four men from the city of Darou Mousty, in the department of Kébémer in the Louga region, were arrested and subsequently detained at a police station in the city. These four men were arrested for alleged sexual acts “against nature.” There are also reports that the police forced these men to reveal the names of people who are supposedly “homosexual.” The week of August 10, 2009, two of the men were convicted of “unnatural” offenses, despite the only evidence against them being denunciations from townspeople. One man received a sentence of 2 years in prison and the other 5 years. A third man, who is seventeen years old, will stand trial August 24, 2009 in a court for minors. The status of the fourth is unknown.

Senegal is one of the few francophone African countries that criminalizes homosexuality, under Article 319 of the Senegalese Penal Code. Last year, nine members of AIDES Senegal were arrested and sentenced to 8 years in prison for “indecent conduct and unnatural acts” and “conspiracy.” The Court of Appeals in Dakar overturned the sentences in April 2009.

Laws criminalizing and detentions of people because of consensual sex between persons of the same sex are arbitrary and violate international law. Such laws violate Articles 2 and 26 on the rights to equality before the law, freedom from discrimination, and privacy of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as stated in Toonen v. Australia (1994) and by the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. In addition, the Committee on the Rights of the Child has stated its concern over laws that criminalize “homosexual relations, including those of persons under 18 years old” as being impermissible discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (General Comments 3 & 4, Concluding Observations: Chile, April 2007).

The criminalization of consensual same sex relations runs counter to the guarantees of nondiscrimination and equality before the law in Articles 2, 3, and 28 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and Article 7 of the Senegalese Constitution.

For more information on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues in Senegal click here.

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