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Senegal Parliament Rejects Law Increasing Prison Time for Homosexuals

FILE - A man holds a sign reading 'My son will not be an homosexual' during a protest called by religious associations against homosexuality on May 23, 2021, on the Obelisque square in Dakar, Senegal.

A bill that would have increased the punishment for homosexual acts in Senegal from 5 years to 10 years will not be voted on, after lawmakers in a parliament committee on Wednesday rejected approving it for a vote by the full legislative body.

While prosecutions targeting gay people are rare, a 2020 survey by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, an activist group, said such prosecutions are on the rise in the West African country.

The rejected law, introduced in December, would have increased jail time to 10 years for anyone who commits an “act against nature” with someone of the same gender.

The bill would have also targeted “lesbianism, bisexuality, transsexuality, intersexuality, bestiality, necrophilia and similar practices,” AFP reported.

In its most recent international human rights report, published in March 2021, the U.S. State Department criticized Senegal for “violence or threats of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex persons” and the “existence or use of laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults.”

Homosexuality is widely viewed as deviant in Senegal, which is 95% Muslim.

Proponents of the bill said they would continue to seek its passage.

According to Reuters, Ghana is also considering lengthening jail time for same-sex activity.

Some information in this report comes from Reuters, Agence France Press and The Associated Press.