An update to Senegal's latest anti-gay crackdown, where nine gay HIV/AIDS counselors were sentenced to eight years in prison. The detainees are appealing the decision and yesterday appeared at the Dakar Court of Appeal with their attorneys.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has been closely following the case. IGLHRC reports the detainees' counsel argued there was no material proof for the accusations, no specific complainant was filed, the time of their arrests (after 10pm) was illegal, and there was an absence of witnesses/informants.
Biram Sassoum Sy, the attorney for the nine defendants: "We have good hopes," he told journalists at the appeal, adding if the judges accept the technical irregularities, the case would be dismissed and the detainees freed immediately.
Diadji Diouf, who heads AIDES Senegal, an organization that provides HIV prevention services to gay men, and the others were arrested in a raid on Diouf's apartment. The judge sentenced them to "indecent conduct and unnatural acts" and added three years to their sentences for "forming criminal associations"—the AIDS prevention organization. Experts say the arrests and sentences will damage HIV/AIDS prevention efforts.
Senegal is a primarily Muslim nation in West Africa and one of 38 countries on the continent that criminalize homosexual acts—which have been only rarely enforced until now.
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