Senegal: Release the Four Men Arrested for Homosexuality in June 2009

On June 19, 2009, a report on the streaming broadcast of Walf Fadjiri on announced the arrests of four men. from the city of Darou Mousty, in the department of Kébémer in the Louga region, who were subsequently detained at a police station in the city. These four men were arrested for alleged homosexuality and sexual acts 'against nature,' according to the report. The report also indicated that the police forced these men to reveal the names of people who are supposedly ‘homosexual,’ in violation of their procedural rights and their right to privacy.

Due to the grave violations of fundamental rights that occurred in the process of arrest, IGLHRC called for the charges against these men to be dropped and their release to be secured immediately. Their status is unknown to IGLHRC as of July 13, 2009.

Senegal is one of the few francophone African countries that penalizes homosexuality, under Article 319 of the Senegalese Penal Code.

Regardless of the circumstances in which these men were arrested and their sexual orientations, their human rights and rights as Senegalese citizens must be secured. Due process and respect for the rule of law are fundamental commitments that the government of Senegal has enshrined in the Constitution and should be respected in the case of these four men, as the Senegal Court of Appeal did in April 2009 when it ordered the immediate and unconditional release of the nine men who had been arrested and sentenced to jail for engaging in ‘acts against the order of nature’ under Article 319.

The Senegalese Minister of Justice, Madické Niang recently stated at the Consideration of the Outcome of the Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations, that "it was a clear fact that the act of being homosexual was not a crime in Senegal, and there was no legislative or regulatory prescription criminalizing homosexuality," but also argued that "ignoring" Senegalese hostility to homosexuality would "stimulate the appearance of extremist attitudes." He stated that the government would "deal with the issue in a calm and moderate manner."

These latest arrests reveal this statement's flawed logic: the arrest and prosecution of individuals for engaging in consensual sex or for having been accused of being gay by others is neither a calm and moderate action and it belies the statement that homosexuality is not proscribed by law or policy. Furthermore, these arrests can only increase the public's hostility to LGBT people, rather than lessen it.