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Senegal Muslim group sets up coalition to oppose gay rights

Senegal Muslim group sets up coalition to oppose gay rights

Senegalese Islamic NGO Jamra has announced plans for the creation of a national monitoring group to oppose secularism and the decriminalization of homosexuality in the West African nation.

Jamra president Imam Massamba Diop told Dakaractu.com that he planned to form a coalition with like-minded groups, including Senegalese Christian groups to ‘block the way’ for any attempt to decriminalize homosexuality.

‘We will set up a monitoring group soon, so that whenever our culture or our religion is attacked, it will not only be Jamra leading the battle, but a collective involving tens of social movements,” Jamra told a press conference.

‘Senegalese society in its majority rejects any proposed legalization of unions against nature.’

‘The greater forces of the Senegalese society want to be vigilant and enforce the will of the majority of believers in our Muslim and Christian country.’

‘The observatory will be a significant social force and deterrence, representing all segments of the population who reject outright any form of cultural alienation, perversion of youth and degradation of morals in general, to permanently block the road to any attempt to decriminalize acts against nature.’

However Diop rejected the notion that the project was intolerant to homosexuals, saying that his group had never encouraged the stigmatization of homosexuals who he said were victims of a ‘human tragedy.’

Senegalese Justice Minister Aminata Touré questioned why Jamra were making the move when there had been no calls to decriminalize homosexuality from within Senegal.

‘I do not know where this question is coming from,’ Touré said.

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.

People convicted of homosexual acts in Senegal face between one and five years in prison with a mandatory sentence of five years if one of the participants is under 21.

However the Senegalese Government told the United Nations Periodic Review of its human rights in 2009 that ‘homosexuality is a purely private matter, with a long history in Senegal, and is not in itself a cause for prosecution.’

‘The prosecutions referred to occurred only when the homosexual relations took place in public and were of an obtrusive nature, therefore placing them in conflict with morality and religion.’