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Senegal president defends anti-gay law following clash with Obama

Friday, June 28, 2013

DAKAR, Senegal — Senegal President Macky Sall defended his refusal to decriminalize homosexuality on Friday, a day after publicly clashing with President Barack Obama on the issue at a joint press conference.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Sall said it was important for other countries to refrain from imposing their values beyond their borders. He compared his position on homosexuality to other countries’ positions on polygamy, which is widely practiced in Senegal.

Macky Sall

“We don’t ask the Europeans to be polygamists,” Sall said. “We like polygamy in our country, but we can’t impose it in yours. Because the people won’t understand it, they won’t accept it. It’s the same thing.”

Senegal’s penal code imposes prison sentences of up to five years and fines of up to $3,000 for committing “an improper or unnatural act with a person of the same sex.”

Despite the law, Sall maintained that gays were not persecuted in Senegal, saying they were only prosecuted if they engaged in acts that violated the law. Activists strongly disagreed, pointing out that more than a dozen homosexuals are currently in jail for no other reason than their sexual orientation, with guilty verdicts being handed down despite a lack of evidence.

In a December 2011 memorandum, Obama instructed federal agencies to promote gay rights overseas, drawing strong protests from some African officials and many of his African fans.

A total of 38 African countries – about 70 percent of the continent – outlaw homosexuality, according to Amnesty International, and public surveys indicate that such laws are hugely popular.

At Thursday’s press conference, Obama said everyone should be equal under the law regardless of cultural differences. “When it comes to how the state treats people, how the law treats people, I believe that everybody has to be treated equally,” he said.

Sall responded by saying that Senegal was not ready to consider decriminalizing homosexuality. Asked Friday if he thought the day might come when gays are accepted in Senegal and throughout Africa, Sall said it was impossible to predict.

“I don’t know what will happen in 10 years, because the world changes,” he said.

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15 more reader comments:

  1. We should cut off foreign aide to countries that hold these beliefs, until they change their laws.

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 10:45am
  2. We really should stop all foreign aid given to him, he is a deplorable person to do such disgusting persecution of our LGBT brothers and sisters.

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 10:48am
  3. How much do they get?

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 10:48am
  4. then its time to end our aid to these countries, we shouldnt be giving them money when all they do is use it to kill and or devastate groups of people!

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 10:54am
  5. I agree with Ernie H!

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 10:57am
  6. Of course, they need the money from US evangelist leaders.

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 10:59am
  7. ignorant man..feeling for the gay people there..hes a asshole that needs taking down

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 10:59am
  8. We should cut off all foreign aid to any country. Fulfill the dream of liberty here and the rest of the world will be unable to deny us.

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 11:12am
  9. Being a 1963-1964 Peace Corps volunteer in Dakar, Senegal showed me 1) interracial marriages (African men/White French women, White French men/African women), 2) Senegalese culture of men holding hands all the time, 3) Men sewing all of the clothes, etc., etc… Why are Senegal’s laws still so prejudiced?

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 11:14am
  10. If we addressed every sin ….adultery….fornication….divorce….etc the prisons would be overfilled….unnatural acts……yeah right….

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 11:30am
  11. Yes, but you’re a bigot sir.

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 11:31am
  12. We should worry about decriminalizing some laws in this country and give the equality that is deserved.

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 11:38am
  13. No aid for hater countries.

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 11:55am
  14. I blame religion for this kind of blind hate.

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 1:27pm
  15. Senegal promits killing gays

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 2:38pm