A well-known journalist in Muslim-dominated Senegal was slapped with a six-month prison term on Friday for illegally engaging in acts of homosexuality.
A court handed out the sentence to magazine columnist Tamsir Jupiter Ndiaye after he was arrested in June following an accusation of attempted rape made against him by an alleged male victim. Ndiaye, who has previously been convicted of engaging in homosexual acts, was chased by an angry mob before taking shelter in a Dakar police station.
In 2012, Ndiaye was sentenced to four years in prison for acts of homosexuality, illegal possession of arms and battery. His sentence was downgraded to two years and he was paroled in 2013.
This time, charges of driving while intoxicated and kidnap of a minor that led to his arrest were dropped and a charge of “acts against nature on a minor” was amended to “acts against nature on a person of the same sex.”
Homosexual acts are punishable by up to five years in prison and fines of up to £1,600 in Senegal.
President Macky Sall, who won the post last year in West Africa’s oldest democracy, said although homosexual acts are illegal in Senegal, homosexuals are not persecuted and are treated fairly.
“We are not homophobic,” he said. “Senegal is a country that respects freedoms. Gays are not persecuted, but for now they must accept the choices of other Senegalese.”
Barack Obama, who pushed for gay rights in Africa, said: “When it comes to how the state treats people, how the law treats people, I believe that everybody has to be treated equally.”
However, Obama, who flew to Senegal in June, said he has not specifically discussed the issue with Sall.
Human rights organisation Amnesty International urged Obama to speak out against threats to gays and lesbians on his recent trip to Africa.
Two-thirds of African countries consider homosexuality as a criminal offence. Consensual same-sex conduct is illegal in 38 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, some of which are aiming to execute new laws that increase existing penalties, said Amnesty International.