Nine men in
Senegal, including a prominent gay rights activist, have
been convicted of homosexual acts and sentenced to
eight years in prison, the Associated Press reports.
Diadji Diuof, a
well-known Senegalese activist who heads an organization
providing HIV prevention and other services, was among the
nine men arrested in December during a raid on his
apartment. Just weeks before, Senegal played host to
an international AIDS conference -- LGBT participants
were visible throughout the conference.
Senegal is one of
38 African countries that criminalize homosexual acts.
Joel Nana, Africa research and policy coordinator with the
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
in Cape Town, notes that South Africa caused a
stir in 2006 when it became the first African country
to legalize same-sex marriage.
The nine men were
convicted of and sentenced for unnatural acts and
criminal conspiracy, Nana told AP.
"This is the
first case that we've heard of in Senegal where people
actually got sentenced," he said, calling the punishment
long and harsh.
"It is a strong
message of hatred, a strong message of division when
we know it is critical at this point to address HIV in these
communities," he said. (Advocate.com)