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Senegal: two men detained after remarks against the Prime Minister on homosexuality

Senegal: two men detained after remarks against the Prime Minister on homosexuality
Senegal: two men detained after remarks against the Prime Minister on homosexuality

An activist and a preacher were placed under arrest warrant after targeting Senegalese Prime Minister Ousmane Sonko and his recent comments on homosexuality, one of their lawyers told AFP on Thursday.

The two men were charged with “spreading false news” and “insulting” the head of government, said one of their counsel, Me Amadou Sall. They will be tried on Monday before the Dakar flagrante delicto court, he said.

“This is an attempt to muzzle any dissenting voice,” he reacted.

The activist Bah Diakhaté, arrested Monday by the Criminal Investigation Division (Dic, judicial police), engaged in a video in attacks against Mr. Sonko after a statement by the latter on the theme of homosexuality at the occasion of the visit of the French radical left opponent Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

The preacher Cheikh Ahmed Tidiane Ndao, taken into custody on Tuesday by the same services, criticized the Prime Minister in another video for what he denounces as complacency towards homosexuality.

Mr. Sonko, champion of sovereignism and pan-Africanism imbued with social concerns and traditional values, criticized what he considers to be attempts by Western countries to impose their way of life on African countries and to push for legalization of homosexuality. He spoke of “casus belli”.

Homosexuality is widely considered a deviance in Senegal where the law punishes so-called “unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex” with imprisonment of one to five years.

Mr. Sonko demanded respect from Western countries for the specificities of African societies for which, according to him, “the question of gender is not new” and which “manage them in their own way”.

“From the dawn of time until now, societies have lived with these phenomena and there has never been persecution, neither here in Senegal nor anywhere in Africa,” he said. If the fact “is not accepted, it is tolerated,” he said.

Circles close to religious people, opponents and activists have criticized Mr. Sonko for having defended tolerance towards homosexuality and for having offered Mr. Mélenchon a platform to plead the cause of sexual minorities .

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