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Senegal Court Frees Nine Men Convicted Of Homosexuality

Jim Burroway

April 26th, 2009

Last January we reported on nine men who were sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of engaging in an “unnatural act.” Those men were ordered free last Monday by a Dakar appeals court. According to Biram Sassoum Sy, the lead lawyer for the defense, the nine have been completely cleared and the case has been dropped.

Most of the defendants worked for HIV/AIDS programs targeting men who have sex with men. They were arrested at the home of a prominent gay activist in December without warrants, and police elicited confessions after mistreatment, according to the group’s lawyers. Senegalese law provides for a five year prison sentence on conviction of homosexual acts, but the court piled on an additional three years for “criminal association.”

The conspiracy charge appears to be related to their work with AIDES Senegal. The men were arrested only days after Senegal hosted the 15th International Conference on AIDS and STIs. This conviction has had a deep chilling effect among all HIV/AIDS workers in Senegal.

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