Senegal Court Jails Two Men For Accusing Prime Minister Ousmane Sonko Of Tolerating Homosexuality

Senegal Court Jails Two Men For Accusing Prime Minister Ousmane Sonko Of Tolerating Homosexuality

Two men have been sentenced to three months in prison by a Senegalese court for “spreading false news” regarding the country’s new prime minister, Ousmane Sonko. They accused him of tolerating homosexuality. Activist Bah Diakhate and Imam Cheikh Ahmed Tidiane Ndao were also fined 100,000 CFA francs ($165, £130) each.

The controversy arose when Mr. Sonko allowed visiting French politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon to express support for same-sex marriages. This angered Diakhate and Ndao, who subsequently posted a video attacking Mr. Sonko for giving a platform to Mélenchon. The political activist and the preacher were arrested two weeks ago.

Homosexual acts are banned in Senegal, a predominantly Muslim West African nation, and are punishable by up to five years in prison. Mélenchon’s comments on same-sex marriages at a student forum in Dakar in mid-May sparked boos from the audience at Cheikh Anta Diop University.

In response to the uproar, Mr. Sonko stated that Western countries should show restraint on social matters like LGBTQ rights to avoid fostering anti-Western sentiment. He said that Senegal would handle issues surrounding homosexuality according to its socio-cultural norms, adding that homosexuality is “not accepted, but tolerated” in Senegal.

Ousmane Sonko, a former firebrand opposition leader, was appointed prime minister in April following the election of his ally Bassirou Diomaye Faye as president. Both Sonko and Faye were released from prison shortly before the election under an amnesty aimed at calming political unrest after the outgoing president attempted to postpone the vote.

The pair campaigned on a platform of radical change, promoting an Afrocentric and nationalist agenda, and pledged to reset Senegal’s relationship with France, the country’s former colonial power.

Melissa Enoch

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