Senegalese Journalist Given Six Month Prison Sentence For Homosexuality

A well-known Senegalese journalist has been sentenced to six month in prison for “acts of homosexuality,” which is a criminal offense in his country. Journalist and former UNESCO employee Tamsir...

A well-known Senegalese journalist has been sentenced to six month in prison for “acts of
homosexuality,” which is a criminal offense in his country.

Journalist and former UNESCO employee Tamsir Jupiter Ndiaye was arrested in June after being accused of the attempted rape
of a young man. Prior to his arrest, an angry mob pursued Ndiaye, who then sought refuge in a
Dakar police station. According to several African news sources, Ndiaye was also booked on
charges of kidnapping a minor and driving while intoxicated while in police custody.

Homosexuality is a criminal offense in almost two-thirds of African countries. Senegal is no
exception; Article 19 of the Senegalese Penal Code stipulates that those who participate in the
“improper or unnatural act” of sexual contact with the same gender must be sentenced to one to
five years in prison and fined up to $2500. For citizens under the age of 21, the penal code
mandates that the maximum sentence be applied. During Ndiaye’s trial, prosecutors sought the
maximum sentence, petitioning the judge to punish Ndiaye with four years in prison. The
prosecuting attorney went so far as to say, “Until the extinction of the sun, our society will not
accept certain practices.”

This set of homosexuality convictions is not Ndiaye’s first. In 2012, he was sentenced to four
years in prison after a disagreement with a male sex worker ended in Ndiaye’s stabbing the
man. Both men were charged with “acts of homosexuality,” while Ndiaye received additional
charges of battery and illegal possession of arms. Ndiaye’s sentenced was subsequently
reduced to two years and he paroled out in 2013.

In addition to the obvious homophobia at the root of anti-homosexuality laws, they also have
other grave implications. Given the circumstances surrounding both Ndiaye’s current conviction
and his previous ones, it’s clear that he’s abusive. However, laws like this don’t take that into
account. They conflate consensual same gender relations with rape and pedophilia, which is not
only homophobic, but also harms sexual assault survivors of all orientations.

A few short days after Ndiaye’s conviction, President Obama used his platform at three-day
summit for the Young African Leadership Initiative to speak about the importance of addressing
the widespread and deeply-rooted homophobia that plagues many African societies. After
stating that violence against people based on the color of their skin needs to end, he then
added:

The same, by the way, is true for sexual orientation. I spoke about this in Africa,
and everybody is like, oh, oh, we don’t want to hear that. But the truth of the matter is, is that if
you’re treating people differently just because of who they love and who they are, then there’s a
connection between that mindset and the mindset that led to racism, and the mindset that leads
to ethnic conflict. It means that you’re not able to see somebody else as a human
being.”

Sources

Advocate: Senegalese Journalist Given Six-Month Prison Sentence for
Homosexuality

US News: Senegal court sentences journalist to 6 months in jail for acts of
homosexuality

OUT: Obama Calls on Young African Leaders to Support LGBT Rights

Image Courtesy of Flag-map_of_Senegal, via Wikimedia Commons

Categories
NewsWest Africa
Adreanna Nattiel

Adreanna Nattiel is a writer, activist, and queer feminist based in Atlanta, GA. Her primary interest is media and pop culture studies and how they intersect with body politics for people of color. She is a real-life witch, aspiring cat lady, and horror junkie. Her plan is to take over the world, one flawless brow at a time.

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