Main | Tuesday, November 12, 2013

SENEGAL: Five Lesbians Arrested

Five "suspected lesbians" have been arrested in Senegal's continuing crackdown on its LGBT citizens.
The five women were detained early Monday morning during a birthday party at a restaurant in Dakar’s Yoff district that has been described in the Senegalese press as a meeting point for gay men and lesbians, said Ndeye Kebe, president of the activist group Women’s Smile. The oldest of the suspects, 31-year-old Sene Dieng, is an assistant director at Women’s Smile, the only group in Senegal to advocate for lesbians’ rights. The five women were expected to appear in court Tuesday, though Kebe said they had been unable to afford a lawyer. Senegal’s penal code calls for prison sentences of up to five years and fines of up to $3,000 for committing “an improper or unnatural act with a person of the same sex.” Since 2008, the Muslim-majority country has been gripped by what Human Rights Watch describes as an anti-gay “moral panic,” with arrests and mob justice on the rise.
The Associated Press adds that while a Senegalese newspaper claims the women were "caught committing homosexual acts," witnesses report that the five women were merely sitting at a table in a crowded restaurant when police arrived.

RELATED: Last week the European Union ruled that LGBT refugees from Senegal and other anti-gay nations are eligible for asylum in EU member states. The ruling stipulates that it will be up to each EU nation to determine if imprisonment is "applied in practice" in the applicant's home country. The "mere existence" of a ban on homosexuality is not grounds in itself for eligibility.

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