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Senegalese press predicts trouble for France’s new gay prime minister

Senegalese press predicts trouble for France’s new gay prime minister

‘The homosexual lobby has taken power in France’, says the Dakar Times of Senegal.

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Before he became France’s prime minister, Gabriel Attal was the popular Minister of National Education (Photo courtesy of @gabrielattal)

In Africa, where 31 states penalize homosexuality, Gabriel Attal’s appointment as the prime minister of France has caused a stir. At age 34, Attal is France’s youngest prime minister ever. He is also gay.

The Dakar Times in Senegal predicted that Attal will run into trouble if he plans to travel in Africa. It headlined its article in bright red on its front page,  “Africa’s take on the gay prime minister” under the words “Gabriel Attal head of government: The homosexual lobby has taken power in France.”

The article stated:

“It’s clear that Gabriel Attal’s forthcoming visits to Africa will be highly controversial. Some heads of state and government will avoid welcoming him for fear of being criticized by their local public opinion. African political authorities who agree to receive Mr. Attal on an official visit could be accused of being LGBT promoters or simply homosexuals. … Attal’s appointment as head of the French government could … cause a chill in Franco-African relations. Africans are systematically opposed to homosexuality.”

As support for that prediction, the commentator recalled the controversy that arose last summer over the planned trip to Cameroon by Jean-Marc Berthon, France’s envoy for LGBT rights. Berthon’s visit was cancelled because of the homophobic uproar, even though he was planning to discuss gender issues rather than LGBT rights.

Two Senegalese observers have two different views of the situation, which they expressed in interviews:

“Africa’s take on the gay prime minister” headlines the Dakar Times in bold red. The press in Senegal is wondering about the future impact of Attal’s homosexuality on his future travels on the African continent, particularly in countries that criminalize homosexuality.

Mouhamadou (pseudonym): “You see, here in Senegal, anything positive that could be said about Mr. Attal’s career path, about how he managed to become France’s youngest prime minister at 34, is totally brushed aside. The media, in search of buzz, prefer to highlight his homosexuality in red and capital letters on the front cover, when it serves no purpose other than to denigrate him.

What’s more, I’m surprised, because in Senegal there’s an article of law in the press code dating from July 2021 which forbids the media from alluding to the sexual orientation of a public figure, except in the case of a sexual offense or crime”.

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Medoune (pseudonym): Except for educated people, it’s a non-event. For Africans, the homosexuality of a foreign head of state or head of government is the least of their worries, because they feel it’s none of their business. In this sense, they are rather indifferent.

On the other hand, when it comes to homosexuality in Senegal, my country, that’s another matter altogether, and people don’t accept it. It would even take a tsunami to see mentalities change on this subject here, with the religious leaders we have.

[Editor’s note: Senegal severely punishes homosexuality, with sentences of up to 5 years’ imprisonment plus a fine.]

On the other hand, where Africans differ from Westerners is that Africans won’t ask Europeans to practice polygamy, whereas, on the contrary, Westerners are absolutely determined to impose their views on the treatment of sexual and gender minorities on Africans, which creates a great deal of frustration.

This article is based on an English translation of a French-language article by Moïse Manoël-Florisse from the French-language Stop Homophobie website.

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