Senegalese Activist, Cleric Imprisoned for Denouncing PM’s LGBTQ Stance

A court in Senegal has sentenced activist Bah Diakhate and Imam Cheikh Ahmed Tidiane Ndao to three months in jail and fined them $165 each for “spreading false news.” Their offense was accusing Senegal’s new Prime Minister Ousmane Sonko of tolerating homosexuality.

Their anger stemmed from Sonko allowing a visiting French politician, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, to express support for same-sex marriages during a recent visit. Homosexual acts are illegal in the predominantly Muslim West African nation and are punishable by up to five years imprisonment.

The activist and preacher were arrested two weeks ago after posting a video attacking Sonko for giving Mélenchon a platform when his comments sparked backlash from the audience at a university forum in Dakar in mid-May.

While stating Western nations should show restraint on social issues like LGBTQ rights to avoid fueling anti-Western sentiment, Sonko said Senegal would continue addressing homosexuality based on its socio-cultural norms. He was quoted saying homosexuality is “not accepted, but tolerated” in the country.

Sonko, a former opposition firebrand, became prime minister in April after ally Bassirou Diomaye Faye won the presidency. The two had campaigned on ushering radical change with an Afrocentric, nationalist agenda to reset ties with former colonial power France after being freed from prison in an amnesty meant to calm pre-election turmoil.