Activists report that LGBTQ people are being arrested in Senegal ahead of upcoming presidential elections.
According to LGBTQ human rights organisations and local media, four young people – two men and two women – were recently arrested in the capital, Dakar, for “acts against the order of nature.”
It’s believed that the four were targeted after videos of the couples having sex were circulated in the city. Activists say that the crackdown is linked to electioneering as politicians move to assert their opposition to homosexuality.
“As the elections in Senegal approach, parties are making their stand against the LGBTIQ+ community by arresting members of the community,” said PanAfrica Ilga in a post on Facebook.
“The Senegalese candidates and government need to be held accountable for their homophobic stance and the human rights violations being perpetrated as a platform for election. We stand in solidarity with our Senegalese comrades,” asserted the organistion.
Senegalese LGBTI group Arc en Ciel also commented on Facebook: “The hunt for sexual minorities begins because the government is preparing to answer those who call them ‘pro-homosexual’ as was the case in the 2016 referendum.”
It added: “Young people really need training and support to deal with these threats.”
Senegal will vote for a new president in February next year in national elections. Sitting President Macky Sall is aiming to secure a second term.
Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in the West African country under article 319 of the penal code which punishes “improper or unnatural” acts with jail time of between one and five years and fines. If the act was committed with a person below the age of 21, the maximum penalty must be applied.