Main | Thursday, January 08, 2009

Senegal: Eight Years In Prison For HIV/AIDS Activists

Senegal, which recently hosted a major international AIDS conference, has sentenced nine gay men to eight years in prison for "unnatural and indecent acts." Most of the men are HIV/AIDS activists.
The jailing in Senegal of nine gay men for eight years over "indecent conduct and unnatural acts" has been condemned by an international gay rights group. Homosexual acts are illegal in Senegal but the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) told the BBC it was "shocked by the ruling". The judge added three years to a five-year sentence, saying the men were also members of a criminal group. Most of them belonged to an association set up to fight HIV and Aids.

"This is the first time that the Senegalese legal system has handed down such a harsh sentence against gays," said Issa Diop, one of the men's four defence lawyers. Mr Diop said he would be appealing against the sentences. The IGLHRC's Cary Alan Johnson said he was "deeply disturbed" by the case. "There have been pretty consistent human rights violations… in Senegal," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme from Cape Town in South Africa. "But the extremity of this sentence [and] the rapidness of the trial all really shocks us in a country which has been moving so positively towards rule of law and a progressive human rights regime."
For years, gay people have been fleeing Senegal for safer neighboring countries.

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