Jailed for Being Gay

Nine men in Senegal have been jailed for ‘indecent conduct and unnatural acts’, exactly the sort of vagueness that these kinds of laws thrive on:

Homosexual acts are illegal in Senegal but the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) told the BBC it was “shocked by the ruling”.

The judge added three years to a five-year sentence, saying the men were also members of a criminal group.

Most of them belonged to an association set up to fight HIV and Aids.

“This is the first time that the Senegalese legal system has handed down such a harsh sentence against gays,” said Issa Diop, one of the men’s four defence lawyers. (Source)

Is this ‘criminal group’ the same as the one geared towards fighting HIV and AIDS? We aren’t told, but I’d be interesting in knowing what portion of the jail term was due to other claimed criminal activities.

What should we take from this? For a start, let’s all remember that although there is still much ground to be claimed in the gay rights struggle in the USA and Europe, there are parts of the world even engaging in homosexual sex is a criminal offence. Too many gay rights activists tends to look inwards, as if the only issue facing GLBT people everywhere is the fallout from Proposition 8. Unlike some, we have the right to speak our minds without fear of being put in prison for it – surely we have an obligation to use that great liberty in the defence of those to whom it is denied?

EDIT: Whoops, accidentally plagarised. Updated to include link to original BBC article.

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