Seven months after Senegalese protesters rallied against members of the LGBTQ+ community demanding that homosexuality be criminalized, lawmakers have updated the law tightening the already discriminatory legislation. While it is not illegal to be gay in Senegal, same-sex activities are punishable by up to five years of imprisonment. Protesters gathered in May in Dakar in a demonstration organized by civil society, And Samm Jikko Yi.
On Monday, 13 December, a legislator informed of a new law that was drafted that reinforced the criminality of same-sex relations in the devoutly conservative Muslim nation. In addition, lawmakers have updated the anti-LGBTQ legislation by lengthening the years punishable by imprisonment by five more years for those found guilty of partaking in LGBTQ+ activities.
One of the legislators involved in drafting the bill, Alloune Souare, said, 'We hope to present the proposal to the parliament before the end of the week.' Senegalese government has previously rejected legalizing homosexuality. However, the level of support the bill will receive at parliament seems ambiguous presently.
'When individual freedoms, in particular the most sacred – privacy between consenting adults – are attacked, then there is little time left to realize that democracy is in danger,' Senegalese LGBTQ+ activist Djamil Bangoura stated. He further implored the international community to help persuade and pressure authorities to refuse this bill.
Homosexuality is only legal in 22 of the 54 countries in Africa and is punishable by death in many others. More African countries are considering following Senegal's route of increasing jail terms due to the cultural beliefs that homosexuality is unnatural due to Western influences. Arrests have increased in Senegal over the past few years, and this new bill, should it be passed in parliament, will be a grave human rights violation.