Senegal politician seeks explicit law against homosexuality

By Jean Marc Yao

Senegal parliament building
Senegal parliament building

Senegalese member of parliament Mberry Sylla  submitted a bill on May 8 that would specifically criminalize homosexuality in Senegal.

Under existing Senegalese law, committing “an improper or unnatural act with a person of the same sex” is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Amadou Mberry Sylla, député sénégalais. (Photo de DakarActu.com)
Amadou Mberry Sylla, member of parliament in Senegal. (Photo courtesy of DakarActu.com)

In response to international human rights advocates’ appeals to repeal that law, Senegalese officials have argued that the law must be interpreted as a punishment for “unnatural acts committed in public” and alleged — despite clear evidence to the contrary — that nobody has ever been imprisoned for violating it.

But that is not good enough for Sylla.

He has long advocated for a specific law against homosexuality, which he discussed during a meeting with President Macky Sall in February. Since then, he has been silent about it, until submitting the bill last weekend.

If the language of the bill is as Sylla describes it, the proposed law could be the world’s first anti-homosexuality law that explicitly prohibits a sexual orientation rather than prohibiting unpopular actions.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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