LGBTI groups in Senegal said an increase in arrests for alleged homosexuality is a government crackdown on the LGBTI community.
The latest arrests of two men and two women in the capital, Dakar, prompted the comments. Police arrested the four after people in their neighbourhood circulated videos of them engaged in sexual acts.
Anti-gay president, Macky Sall, is up for re-election in 2019. Sall has vowed to never legalize homosexuality in the western African country.
‘Acts against nature’ are illegal and punishable by up to five years in prison and fines of up to US$2,500.
The recent arrests follow the conviction of Cheikh Abdel Kalifa Karaboué for ‘acts against nature ‘for drugging and raping a coworker. Dakar’s High Court sentenced him to four years in jail and ordered him to pay the victim US$3,586 in compensation.
But LGBTI groups argued the arrests are a political ploy to appear tougher on the LGBTI community.
‘As the elections in Senegal approach, parties are making their stand against the LGBTIQ+ community by arresting members of the community,’ PanAfrica Ilga wrote in a statement. Pan Africa ILGA (PAI) is the African region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).
‘The Senegalese candidates and government needs to be held accountable for their homophobic stance and the human rights violations being perpetrated as a platform for election. We stand in solidarity with our Senegalese comrades,’ the group said.
Senegalese LGBTI group Arc en Ciel said young LGBTI people needed training in coping with the crackdown.
‘With the approach of presidential elections, the hunt for sexual minorities begins because the government is preparing to answer those who label them pro-homosexual,’ the group wrote on Facebook.