On President Barack Obama’s three-nation trip to Africa in June, reporters asked him at a press conference with Senegalese President Macky Sall about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act the previous day. Obama took the opportunity to press Sall on gay rights in Senegal, where homosexuality remains illegal. At the time, Sall rebuffed Obama, saying Senegal was “not ready to decriminalize homosexuality.”
It seems clear that its leaders are still not ready.
On Thursday, charges were brought against five women in Senegal for violating the country’s law prohibiting homosexual acts. According to The Associated Press, one of the women is a member of Women’s Smile, the only lesbian-rights group that currently operates in the country.
Despite Sall’s affirmation alongside Obama that his country was “very tolerant,” many analysts and advocates beg to differ.
“Articles 320 and 321 of the penal code disparage same-sex contact as an ‘unnatural act’ and stipulate one to five years jail for offenders, with an automatic five-year term if one or both partners are under 21,” said Peter Tatchell, director of the human-rights organization the Peter Tatchell Foundation.