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6 months in prison for man who escaped anti-gay mob in Senegal

A young man who narrowly escaped lynching by a homophobic crowd last month in Senegal was sentenced on Jan. 21 to six months in prison on homosexuality charges.


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The Great Mosque of Touba (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

In Touba, holy city of the Islamist mourides (holy men) of Senegal,  Samba  narrowly escaped death by lynching on Dec. 28, 2020. The  angry crowd that pursued the young man wanted to burn him because of his gender identity and presumed sexual orientation.

Samba (a pseudonym) was saved from lynching by police, who arrested him on homosexuality charges.

On Jan. 21, in the first LGBTphobic conviction of the year in Senegal, Samba was sentenced to six months in prison.

The conviction was for an “an act against nature” under Article 319 of Senegal’s penal code, which provides for a sentence of up to five years for homosexual activity.  Samba was also convicted of a public health violation related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Souleymane Diouf (also a pseudonym), a leader of the Free Collective, an LGBTQ rights group in Senegal, said Samba should not appeal his conviction, because that would attract even more harmful publicity to his case.

“In this type of case, the echoes resound in Senegal,” he said.

Activist Moïse Manoel interviewed Diouf by phone on Jan. 22:

A vehicle of the Safinatoul Amane religious police patrols the streets of Touba. The militia regularly persecutes and tortures suspected LGBTI people on the orders of the city’s Islamist holy men. (Photo courtesy of the Free Collective)

What were the shortcomings of the legal process in Samba’s case?

“There is no flagrant ‘unnatural act’. The defendant was denied access to a lawyer when he was taken into custody. He was not notified of his rights, which often happens in cases involving people who allegedly are LGBTI.

“The investigators pushed for a quick confession. In arguing for conviction, the prosecution relied on messages and images in Samba’s phone, which was a complete violation of his privacy.

“It is astounding that, at the same time, no action has been taken against  easily recognizable people in the videos [of the mob] circulating on social networks. People who assaulted Samba were not bothered by the authorities. The message that justice is served by throwing stones and beating people who appear to be gay.”

Do you have any news about the two homosexuals allegedly arrested in Dakar on Nov. 23?

“No. We worry and fear for their lives. We have been trying to reach them or find out about them, but so far have had no success.”

Media and organizations wishing to contact the Free Collectif can write to senegalcollectiffree@gmail.com.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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