Senegal: Dakar Court Overturns Homophobic Sentences

On April 20, 2009, Bara Niang, President of Senegal’s Court of Appeal, ordered an immediate and unconditional release of the nine men who had been arrested and sentenced to eight years in jail for membership in a criminal organization and engaging in acts against the order of nature.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has monitored this case since its inception. IGLHRC alerted other international and intergovernmental organizations to the arrests, advocated with U.S. and other foreign embassies in Senegal, and worked behind the scenes to help secure the men’s release. IGLHRC also provided emergency assistance to the detainees while they were in prison.

On December 19, 2008, police officers raided the apartment of Mr. Diadji Diouf, an important leader in the Senegalese lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, and arrested him and eight other men. Mr Diouf, who heads AIDES Senegal, an organization providing HIV prevention services to men who have sex with men (MSM), and his guests were taken to the SICAP Mbao police station where they were detained until December 24 before being transferred to the Maison d’arrêt et de détention de Rebeuss.

On January 8, 2009, the nine men appeared in court to respond to charges of membership in a criminal organization and engaging in acts against the order of nature. IGLHRC was informed that lawyers for the defense had had limited access to case files and little time to prepare for the court hearing. The men were condemned to a sentence of 8 years in jail although the prosecutor had asked for a sentence of 5 years, which is the maximum penalty provided by Senegalese law in sodomy cases.