Debate on the criminalization of homosexuality in Senegal: the opposition’s new diversion

Debate on the criminalization of homosexuality in Senegal: the opposition’s new diversion
Debate on the criminalization of homosexuality in Senegal: the opposition’s new diversion

Weakened by the loss of power and the various scandals revealed by the reports of public control bodies including Ofnac and the Court of Auditors, the new opposition seems to find a lifeline in the debate on homosexuality. Indeed, since the exit of the president of the Pastef party, Ousmane Sonko, moreover, Prime Minister on this question in reaction to the remarks of Jean Luc Mélenchon, president of the Movement of La France Insoumise during their joint conference on “the future in the relations between Africa and France”, held at UCAD II on May 16, the opposition is on a roll.

Are the supporters of the old regime imposing their agenda on their successors in the state? This question makes sense in light of the direction the current debate is taking on the controversial issue of the criminalization of homosexuality in Senegal. Agitated by the supporters of the old regime who have been running riot since the exit of the president of the Pastef party, Ousmane Sonko, moreover, Prime Minister on this issue in reaction to the remarks of Jean Luc Mélenchon, president of the La France Insoumise Movement during their joint conference on “the future in relations between Africa and France”, held at UCAD II on May 16, this debate finally took hold in the public arena. While a large part of national opinion is awaiting the outcome that will be reserved for the dozens of files transmitted to Justice by public control bodies including the Court of Auditors and Ofnac as part of their reports that the former president, Macky Sall had put under his control, his supporters seem more determined than ever to relegate this question of accountability to the background.

Consequences: for several days, the debate on the conclusions of these reports which relate the embezzlement of several billions of public funds as well as the land sale on the Dakar coast and in certain localities of the country has given way to this new debate on the criminalization of homosexuality in Senegal maintained for the most part by former officials of the previous regime. Through the press, the latter are multiplying declarations and other outings to condemn what they describe as an about-face by the current Prime Minister, Ousmane Sonko, who had “committed to passing a law criminalizing homosexuality” he is in business through this reception from the president of the La France Insoumise Movement in Senegal. Some like the activist Bah Diakhate even went further in declarations which did not leave indifferent the public prosecutor who took action and ordered his arrest which the new opposition seems to want to use as a pretext to launch the operation of its political resurrection after the debacle of March 24.

From the former Minister of the Armed Forces, Oumar Youm to the former MP and first president of the Bby parliamentary group, Moustapha Diakhaté, including Abdou Mbow, current president of the Bby parliamentary group, the former minister spokesperson of the government Seydou Guèye and his colleague in the former government, Pape Malick Ndour, all are up in arms not only against the arrest of their “comrade” but also to demand from the current head of government respect for his commitment to criminalize homosexuality in Senegal.

The office of the National Assembly rejects the proposed law on the criminalization of homosexuality in Senegal

It should just be remembered that last December 2021, eleven deputies including Mamadou Lamine Diallo, Moustapha Guirassy, ​​Cheikh Bamba Dièye and Alioune Souané had tabled a bill on the table of the National Assembly office aimed at reforming the paragraph 3 of article 319 of the penal code. According to Moustapha Guirassy, ​​who participated in its writing, this text aimed to fight against all perversion in public space. “These people should respect the society they live in and do what they want in private. Freedom has its limits,” he said. Prepared in collaboration with the collective And Samm Jikko Yi (Together for the Safeguarding of Values, in Wolof), founded by several Islamic associations including the Islamic NGO Jamra, this text therefore aims to toughen the sentences punishing homosexuality in Senegal .

However, ruling on this proposal, the office of the National Assembly under the control of the old regime rejected this text even before the plenary stage. In a press release made public on December 25, 2021, Aymérou Gningue, then president of the Benno bokk yakaar parliamentary group (majority) described this bill as a “false debate” “with unacknowledged political objectives in this pre- election of the local elections of January 23, 2022”. In turn, Ababacar Mboup, national coordinator And Samm Jikko Yi responded by accusing the members of the Assembly office of having exceeded their prerogative by preventing the examination of the text in plenary.

Nando Cabral GOMIS

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