News / Africa

Accused Lesbians in Senegal Freed for Lack of Evidence

Map of SenegalMap of Senegal
x
Map of Senegal
Map of Senegal
Four women accused of violating Senegal’s harsh anti-gay law have been freed, after a court found there was not enough evidence against them.  But activists say the outcome will do little to ease pressure on the West African country’s embattled gay community.  
 
The four suspects in Wednesday’s case were arrested in the early morning hours of November 11 during a birthday party at a restaurant in Dakar’s Yoff district.  A fifth woman arrested in the same raid is a minor and so will have her case processed separately.
 
Police who conducted the raid later testified the women were kissing in public, something they strenuously denied at the time and when they appeared in court earlier this week.
 
Activists said it was unlikely any homosexuals would engage in public displays of affection in Senegal, a Muslim-majority country that has seen a rise in anti-gay sentiment in recent years.
 
Under Article 319 of Senegal’s penal code, homosexual acts are punishable by up to five years in prison and fines of up to $3,000.
 
The head of an NGO called Prudence that works with gay men and lesbians, Djamil Bangoura, said the allegations against the women were likely fabricated.
 
“It is not possible.  The bar is on the main road," Bangoura said. "There are so many people there.  It is not a discreet place.  It is a bar where everyone goes.  I do not see how two homosexuals or two lesbians could gather and be open there in front of people who are not like them.”
 
Though he expressed relief over the outcome of the case, Bangoura said it was hardly a victory for the gay community.
 
The women denied being lesbians, and Bangoura said gay people who are open about their sexual orientation struggle even to find lawyers when legal action is taken against them.
 
In a statement reacting to the verdict, Human Rights Watch said the case called into question whether local law enforcement officials are committed “to basic human rights and the rule of law.”
 
HRW senior researcher on homosexual rights Neela Ghoshal said the acquittal “demonstrates ... good judicial reasoning can prevail over knee-jerk homophobia.”
 
But she said sexual minorities in Senegal “continue to be subjected to homophobic witch-hunts, encouraged by extremist religious leaders and unchallenged by the authorities.”

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid