Senegal: Protesters demand tougher laws against same-sex activity

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Thousands of people demonstrated Sunday in Dakar to demand a strengthening of the repression of homosexuality in Senegal after the recent rejection by the Parliament of a text hardening the laws on the matter, noted journalists of the AFP.

"No to homosexuality," chanted the demonstrators on the Place de la Nation, in the popular Colobane neighborhood near downtown Dakar.

"We call on the president of the National Assembly to bring back the proposed law in the procedure, so that the deputies can examine it again and adopt it in (plenary) session," said Imam Aliou Ndao, famous in Senegal for his religious preaching.

Several banners and signs hostile to homosexuality were held up by the demonstrators, among whom were many young people from other parts of the country. The demonstration was organized at the call of the collective "And Samm Jikko" (Together for the safeguard of values, in Wolof), composed of Muslim associations.

Members of parliament supporting the proposed law to crack down on homosexuality, which was rejected by parliament in January, politicians, and members of civil society participated in the demonstration, which was marshaled without incident by law enforcement officials.

Senegalese law punishes with one to five years in prison and a fine of 100,000 to 1,500,000 CFA francs (152 to 2,286 euros) "anyone who commits an indecent or unnatural act with an individual of his or her sex.

Eleven deputies had introduced a bill in December from the "And Samm Jikko" group to increase prison sentences to five to ten years and fines to 1 million to 5 million CFA francs (1,500 to 7,625 euros).

In addition to homosexuality, the proposal targeted "lesbianism, bisexuality, transsexuality, intersexuality, zoophilia, necrophilia and other related practices.

The Bureau of the National Assembly rejected the proposal, citing the fact that the Senegalese penal code already punishes homosexuality "severely".

President Macky Sall, whose country is often cited as an example of the rule of law in Africa, has always invoked Senegal's cultural specificities to refuse to decriminalize homosexuality, even in front of foreign leaders.

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