It is being reported by Reuters and AHRC community that a group of Senegalese lawmakers drafted new law that would tighten already oppressive laws against same-sex relations, lengthening potential jail terms for those convicted of LGBTQI+ activities.
Homosexuality is punishable by up to five years in prison in Senegal, where arrests and prosecutions have risen sharply, according to a 2020 global review by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).
Lawmaker Alioune Souare said he had helped draft an update to the anti-LGBT+ legislation. “We hope to present the proposal to the parliament before the end of the week,” he told Reuters. The bill would lengthen prison terms to between five and 10 years and criminalize LGBTQI+ activities. The current law targets anyone who commits an “act against nature” with persons of the same gender. It is unclear how much support the bill would win in parliament.
Senegalese LGBTQI+ activist Djamil Bangoura called on the international community to pressure authorities to reject the new legislation. “When individual freedoms, in particular the most sacred -privacy between consenting adults – are attacked, then there is little time left to realize that democracy is in danger,” he said.”
Melanie Nathan ED of African Human Rights Coalition notes:
“Same-sex relations remain taboo in many socially conservative African societies such as Senegal and its neighbors. This is a concomitant of Colonial driven laws. This fact has been obscured by over half of the African countries to make it seems as if same-sex relations is a Western import, when truth be known, it is the criminalizing of human sexuality that is the Western import. Religious dogma from conservative and extreme factions of Christianity and Islam have furthered the narrative that demonizes and criminalizes LGBTQI+ individuals in the over 30 out of 54 African countries that continue to foster and implement old colonial penal codes, and with some countries adding more recent aggressive and onerous criminal laws. These laws, even where not used directly to prosecute and jail gays, lesbian, trans, bisexual and intersex people, serve as license state and non-state actors to commit violence, discriminate and persecute. Let us hope that more can be done to teach this truth and accomplish reform, rather than more aggressive anti-gay laws. It is my hope that Western activists do not make the mistake of demonizing Senegal as a response, but rather that we are able to find productive mechanisms to impact change. We have to be cautious not to have our activism serve only to align more support for these new laws. This is a daunting challenge.”
In Senegal, LGBT+ activists also face smear campaigns and death threats, according to international rights group Amnesty International.
Neighboring Ghana is also considering an anti-LGBT+ law that would lengthen jail terms and force some to undergo “conversion therapy” intended to change a person’s sexual orientation.