By Jean Marc Yao
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.
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.
- Homophobic student mob riots and attacks gay man in Senegal (March 24, 2016, Mamba Online)
- Senegal jails seven men for ‘being gay’ (Aug. 21, 2015, BBC)
- Senegal’s anti-gay law sends journalist back to prison (Aug. 3, 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Senegal Prosecutes LGBT Persons (Aug. 3, 2015, Freedom House)
- Senegal art show to feature LGBT Africans (April 2014, 76crimes.com)
- After mob attack, Senegal blocks gay-themed art show (June 2014, 76crimes.com)
- Police block anti-gay violence in Senegal (February 2014, 76crimes.com)
- Senegal prison sentence for gay couple; how rare? (February 2014, 76crimes.com)
- Appeal to Senegal to release 5 alleged lesbians (November 2013, 76crimes.com)
- Senegal police arrest 5 alleged lesbians (November 2013, 76crimes.com)
- Senegal leader rejects repeal of anti-gay laws (April 2013, 76crimes.com)