Five of the men recently arrested on suspicion of homosexuality in Senegal have been released, according to press reports.

The arrests followed the publishing of photographs of a marriage ceremony between two Senegalese men by a popular local magazine, Icones. The photographs were apparently sold to the sensationalist magazine by the photographer for 1,500,000 ($3000) CFA francs.

It is unclear how many men were originally arrested, with some sources claiming that up to twenty were involved. The police have refused to confirm how many men may still be in prison on the charges.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and PAN-Africa ILGA had earlier sent a letter to the Senegalese Minister of Justice demanding the men’s release.

“Mass arrests of people simply because they are gay terrorise the entire community,” said Paula Ettelbrick, IGLHRC’s executive director.

The authorities have warned that while the five men have been released, the charges against them have not been dropped, and police will continue with their investigation. It is believed that one of the arrested men is a French national.

Senegal is one of the few Francophone African countries that penalise homosexuality. Homosexual acts are punishable by imprisonment of between one and five years and a fine of 100,000 ($200) to 1,500,000 ($3,000) CFA francs.

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