Senegal: Five women charged under anti-gay law to spend up to five years in prison

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A prosecutor in Senegal has said that five women arrested earlier this week accused of violating the country’s anti-gay law have now been charged, and are due to spend up to five years in prison.

Mamadou Thiam confirmed the charges late Wednesday, two days after the women were arrested early Monday morning at a piano bar in the Yoff district of Dakar.

The suspects included 31-year-old Sene Dieng, an assistant director of Women’s Smile, the only group in Senegal to advocate for lesbians’ rights.

Ndeye Kebe, the group’s president, said Thursday the women had not yet found a lawyer.

Same-sex relationships are banned in Senegal and the maximum custodial sentence is five years imprisonment.

In September, Senegal’s New Justice Minister Sidiki Kaba ruled out legalising homosexuality in the country despite previously being a gay rights supporter and activist.

President Sall earlier this year rebuked US President Barack Obama called for tolerance when he visited the country earlier this year. Mr Sall replied to Mr Obama by saying that: “We are still not ready to decriminalize homosexuality. I’ve already said it in the past. We’re still not ready to change the law. This does not mean that we are all homophobic.”

Amnesty International have called on countries in Africa to tackle the suffering and homophobia faced by LGBT people. 

In 2010, a report said that the bodies of dead gay men in Senegal were being unearthed by homophobic mobs and in some cases being left on their families’ doorsteps.