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Senegal Human Rights Alert

edited June 2010 in - West Africa

Thinking of taking a holiday to Senegal? Please think again! Whether you are heterosexual or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender (LGBT), if you are concerned about fundamental human rights, consider spending your vacation dollars in countries that do not hunt down, persecute and arrest sexual minorities. For example, the island Republic of Cape Verde, lying just west of Senegal, has decriminalized private consensual sexual activities among adults and in 2009 voted in support of a United Nations resolution urging universal decriminalization of private consensual acts.

In Senegal, same-sex activity is punishable by up to five years imprisonment. Enforcement of this law has escalated in the past two years, with the arrests of more than 50 people and trials of at least 16 individuals suspected of being sexual minorities. State-sanctioned violence and anti-gay rhetoric in the media has also increased.

In February 2008, publication of photographs from a same-sex commitment ceremony set off a wave of arrests and an anti-gay media frenzy and sent dozens of gay men into exile. In December 2008, police raided an HIV training workshop hosted by a local AIDS Service organization. Those present were arrested, beaten, held in appalling conditions and sentenced to eight years in prison before successfully appealing their convictions. Arrests continued with the apprehension of four men in Darou Mousty in June 2009. In November, Safinatoul Amal, an organization charged with the “spiritual protection of the town of Touba”, reportedly raided a man's home and arrested him for "incitement to debauchery." On December 24, 2009 twenty-four men were arrested at a private home in Saly Niax Niaxal and briefly held before being released. The arrests were accompanied by sensational media coverage, virulently homophobic statements from religious and political leaders, and violence — including physical attacks and the exhumation and desecration of the bodies of deceased people suspected of being LGBT. In April-May 2010 more Gay Senegalese were forced to flee the country as the Criminal Investigation Division sought to identify and arrest suspected LGBT individuals. Many victims of this virulent homophobia have lost their livelihoods and educational opportunities, been denounced by neighbors and brutalized yet Senegal’s government continues to ignore its obligation to protect the human rights of its LGBT citizens. Will you really enjoy your holiday in this kind of environment? Will you send a message to Senegal with your tourist dollars? If you do cancel your planned trip to Senegal, please let Senegal know by informing the Senegal Tourist Office in Atlanta, GA ([email protected] / tel: 1 404 995-6628) and the Senegal Minister for Tourism.


  • edited 5:08AM
    EXTREMELY good information - we considered going to Senegal, but I can safely say that this option is officially off the table until such policies are abandoned. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.
  • edited 5:08AM
    Countries have the right to dictate their own laws and what they will and will not tolerate. I am of the opinion that if one is LGBT, that person should keep it in the privacy of their own bedroom. Heterosexuals don't go around touting the fact that they are straight. I am appreciative of this post because it lets people with inconsistent values know that they should probably vacation elsewhere. For some of us, Senegal is a safe haven away from all of the debase perversions that are considered the norm in the U.S.

    To me it is a human rights violation for my children to look at a public displays of affection between two people of the same sex, be confused, and even consciously or subconsciously consider that as an option. Senegal is an Islamic country and whether you are Muslim, Christian or Jewish, sodomy is not acceptable. That's why some U.S. states still have laws against it to this day. I'm guessing you haven't blogged about those.

    I respect Senegal's decision to stand firm in their values and fight to save what remains of the beautiful human culture they have there. LGBT's are entitled to their preference and so is Senegal and the people who live there.
  • edited 5:08AM
    Khadi: You have a really messed-up definition of human rights violation. Being offended is not a human rights violation. It's something every person on the planet has to deal with in order for a free society to function. Heterosexuals may not "go around touting the fact that they are straight", but they do go around telling other people how to live their lives.

    You can hardly say that a person is "entitled to their preference" if they can legally be beaten and executed for doing something that harms no one in the privacy of their own home.
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