AFP: Amnesty: Protect freed gays


April 28, 2009

DAKAR – AMNESTY International on Monday urged Senegal to ensure the safety of nine men freed last week after a court overturned jail convictions for homosexuality, saying they were at risk of homophobic attacks.

‘The decision of the court of appeal in Dakar to release them after they initially received an eight-year sentence is welcome. But it needs to be followed by concrete action from the authorities to ensure the men are safe from possible homophobic attacks,’ Veronique Aubert, deputy director of Amnesty’s Africa Progamme said in a press release.

Part of a group involved in HIV/Aids education, they were convicted of ‘indecent acts against nature’ and membership of a criminal organisation after their arrests in December at a private apartment in a Dakar suburb. Their convictions were overturned on legal technicalities in a move that angered many in the overwhelmingly Muslim country.

Homosexuality is illegal in Senegal where 95 per cent of the population is Muslim. Homosexual acts are punishable by up to five years in prison.

In the aftermath of their release on April 20 a number of newspapers and radio stations denounced the men as ‘vicious’ and ‘perverts.’ According to Amnesty, some radio stations called on the population to attack and throw stones at anyone they suspected of being homosexual. — AFP


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