There is no question of decriminalizing same-sex acts in Senegal, affirmed the country’s president Macky Sall.
In a statement released today (12 April) by the presidency, he ‘firmly stressed that the state has never considered such an option and it is totally excluded under my presidency’, reported the BBC.
The Senegalese president also stated: ‘The African basic roots of our cultural values can not allow to accommodate an option to decriminalize homosexuality’.
On Tuesday, Socialist deputy Iba Der Thiam had demanded that the president of Senegal’s National Assembly, Moustapha Niasse, states the ‘official position of the government of Senegal on the issue of decriminalization of homosexuality’.
A anti-gay debate is raging in the local press for the past month.
The latest anti-gay hysteria started when a Frenchman was ‘caught’ and arrested in a fight allegedly started when he refused to pay a male hustler, which led the local media to discuss how homosexuality is imposed on the country.
On 28 February the daily Le Populaire reported that a ‘homosexual lobby’ was trying to introduce by stealth a bill to decriminalize same-sex acts.
The local media also reported a meeting of representatives of Dakar ‘gay lobby’ with the Ministry of Health and human rights organizations.
Sall said that many Senegalese people have also expressed their opposition to the prospect of legalizing gay sex.
The Islamist Jamra organization, who recently called upon Senegal’s government to fight against homosexuality, welcomed Sall's statement.
However, Jamra urged ‘vigilance’ in case of ‘any pro-legalization lobbyists ventured re-attempt to decriminalize [the law], as they have been regularly doing since 2001’.
Senegal, a conservative mainly Muslim country in the north west of Africa, specifically outlaws same-sex sexual acts; article 319 prohibits ‘unnatural sexual acts’ and punishes homosexuality with one to five years imprisonment and a fine of 100,000 ($200 €152) to 1,500,000 Senegal Francs ($2,000 €1,524).
A 2007 Pew Global Attitudes survey found Senegal to be one of the most anti-LGBT countries in the world with 97 percent of those spoken to expressing anti-gay beliefs.
Homosexuality has been frequently negatively discussed as a populist topic by the local media in the last two years, with several trials of gay men receiving sensationalist attention.
Just over three months ago, two gay men from Guédiawaye, a suburb of the capital Dakar, were brutally attacked by parents of one of them, and outed by the media.
Last year, Tamsir Jupiter Ndiaye, a famous journalist allegedly refused to pay for sex with another man and the two were caught and jailed for four years.