HUMAN RIGHTS TRAVEL ADVISORY: SENEGAL
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 Senegals 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org / tel: 1 404 995-6628) and the Senegal Minister for Tourism.