- Gay communities have said conditions in Senegal are getting worse, after a court jailed nine men to 8 years imprisonment for indecent conduct and unnatural acts. Homosexuality is illegal in Senegal.
The men aged under 30 who were arrested in December in the Dakar suburb of Mbao, appeared in court on Tuesday charged with indecent conduct and membership of a criminal organisation.
Issa Diop, one of the four defence lawyers representing the men said the sentence passed on Tuesday, was the harshest sentence ever to be passed by the courts against gays, saying he would however appeal the sentence.
Under Senegalese penal code, homosexual acts are punishable by imprisonment of between one and five years and a fine of US $200 to $3,000 CFA francs but the judge added three years to the maximum five-year sentence after ruling that the men were also members of a criminal organisation. Senegal is one of Africa's strongest suppressors of gays and lesbians.
In November, the gay and lesbian community regrouped to fight for their rights after the local press published private photos of a gay wedding, causing a commotion and outrage among citizens.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) in a statement expressed concerns over the conviction of the nine men, saying it was clear violation to human rights of gay community.
"IGLHRC is working with local and international partners to find more information about the case and explore options for action," the body said in a statement.
In February 2008, a magazine editor received death threats after publishing pictures claiming to depict a wedding ceremony between two men. Several men and women were also arrested in connection with the publication but later released.
According to IGLHRC many gay men and lesbians were attacked by mobs or driven from their homes following the report.
In August, a Belgian and a Senegalese man were sentenced to two-year prison sentences for "unnatural acts".
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