Senegal: Religious Leaders Fuel Homophobia Says Amnesty International

Published: June 29, 2011

Amnesty International’s 2010 annual report on Senegal found that sermons by religious leaders fuel homophobia and undermine the fundamental rights of gay people in that country.
The report was presented recently to media and civil society during a press conference held at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Dakar.
Seydi Gassama, director of Amnesty International Senegal said, “The situation of human rights in Senegal is far from brilliant. Religious tolerance is one of the characteristic of Senegalese people and we can not tolerate religious leader that pronounce threats against homosexuals.”
El Hadj Abdoulaye, who is in charge of Campaigning and Training at Amnesty International Senegal, agreed, saying the recurrent homophobic statements from religious leaders were a serious concern.
“The report is based on the year 2010. To our knowledge there was no significant incident against gay people reported during this year. However we deplore the attitude of some religious leaders whose recurrent sermons against homosexuality fuel homophobia in the general population,” he said.
Abdoulaye said  the government should  take its responsibility and reinforce the protection of gay people.
“To date there is no specific law that protect this community. The penal code does not criminalize homosexuality, only acts against nature. We argue that when those acts are done in a private sphere it comes under the right to privacy,” he explained.
One of the organisations fingered in Amnesty International’s 2010 report is Jamra, a Muslim NGO which calls for harsher punishment for homosexuals.
In response to the Amnesty report, Imam Massamba Diop, who is in charge of Jamra, reiterated his opposition to homosexuality arguing that gay people should be stoned as recommended in Islam.
“If Gassama has any advice to give he should give it to gay people so that they will give up those acts against nature. Imams and religious leaders are doing their duty when they raise concern on the issue of goorjigeen (gays in the local language) that is gaining ground in Senegal. It is our duty to denounce those acts forbidden by Islam. We do not ask people to stone gay people. It is Allah who says in the Koran “if you see two men having sex, stone them.”

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