Friday, December 3, 2010

Senegal: Law Promotes Violence Against Homosexuals

Senegal's law criminalizing consensual sexual conduct among adults is discriminatory and invites abuse of homosexuals by both the police and the general public, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Human Rights Watch urged repeal of the law, Article 319.3 of the Senegalese penal code, and called on the government to protect all members of society regardless of their sexual orientation and gender expression.

The 95-page report, "Fear for Life: Violence against Gay Men and Men Perceived as Gay in Senegal," includes interviews with dozens of people who have faced threats and violence at the hands of both the police and others in the community. It looks in detail at two key incidents: the "gay marriage" scandal of February 2008; and the arrest of the "nine homosexuals of Mbao" in December 2008. The report also examines several other cases that show how police arrests under Article 319.3 fan broader fear and suspicion.

"Senegal's law criminalizing consensual sexual conduct is deeply destructive for many communities, particularly gay men," said Dipika Nath, researcher in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights program at Human Rights Watch. "People live in constant fear of losing their jobs, their families, their livelihoods, their freedom, and their very lives because they are seen as different."

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