Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Out of jail, but Senegal gays risk death

(Dakar) Radio stations and newspapers in Senegal are urging people to attack gays. One station called on listeners to stone anyone suspected of “being a homosexual.”

One of the African country’s largest Islamic groups has issued statements over the past week describing gays as “vicious” and “perverts” and accuses them of spreading HIV/AIDS.

This homophobic frenzy follows the release of nine men who had been arrested on charges of homosexuality.

Senegal is one of 38 countries in Africa that criminalize homosexual acts.

An appeals court in the capital of Dakar overturned jail sentences last week for the nine after they had been convicted by a lower court and sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of ”indecent and unnatural acts” and “forming associations of criminals.”

All nine were involved in HIV-prevention work, their lawyer said.

The arrests came just weeks after Senegal hosted an international AIDS conference that included gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender participants.

Amnesty International called on the government to protect the nine, and other gay men in the country.

“These statements amount to advocacy of hatred constituting incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence,” said Veronique Aubert, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Program.

Amnesty also called for an investigation into allegations of torture and other ill-treatment against the men while they were in custody, and for those responsible to be brought to justice.

The organization has said it is concerned that confessions reported to have been extracted from the men under torture were accepted as evidence by the lower court during their trial.

Over the last two years, Senegal has seen an increase in homophobic attacks, arbitrary arrests and increased hostility towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, same-sex practicing and transgender people Amnesty said.

“The Senegalese authorities must repeal the law criminalizing consensual sexual conduct between people of the same sex, and provide immediate protection for those who may be subject to discrimination or attack on the basis of actual or perceived sexual conduct,” said Aubert.



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