Gay Men Jailed for 'Unnatural Act' in Senegal

By Daniel Reynolds

Originally published on Advocate.com February 03 2014 5:43 PM ET

A couple in Senegal was convicted of criminal charges for being gay.

Citing the African country’s penal code, Judge Racky Deme sentenced two men to six months in prison, after the pair admitted Friday to having had sexual relations, reports the Associated Press.

Neighbors initially alerted authorities to the couple's cohabitation in Dakar, the national’s capital. Although conviction is rare, criminal charges for "an improper or unnatural act with a person of the same sex" can carry a sentence of up to five years and a $3,000 fine.

The president of Senegal, Macky Sall, maintains that his country is tolerant of same-sex relations, despite the findings of a Pew Research Center poll, which finds that, in the African countries that criminalize homosexuality, more than 90 percent of citizens say gay people don't belong in society.

Sall claimed that Senegal is "a very tolerant country which does not discriminate," albeit one that is "still not ready to decriminalize homosexuality."

His statement was in response to remarks made by President Barack Obama’s June 27, 2013 visit to Senegal

"When it comes to how the state treats people, how the law treats people, I believe that everybody has to be treated equally," Obama said at a news conference in the West African nation.