A group of Senegalese lawmakers has drafted a law that would tighten already repressive laws against same-sex relations, lengthening potential jail terms for those convicted of LGBT+ activities, one of the legislators said on Monday.
Gay sex is already punishable by up to five years in prison in Senegal, where arrests and prosecutions have risen sharply, according to a 2020 global review by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).
Lawmaker Alioune Souare said he had helped draft an update to the anti-LGBT+ legislation.
“We hope to present the proposal to the parliament before the end of the week,” he told Reuters.
The bill would lengthen prison terms to between five and 10 years and criminalize LGBT+ activities specifically. The current law targets anyone who commits an “act against nature” with persons of the same gender.
It is unclear how much support the bill would win in parliament.
Senegalese LGBT+ activist Djamil Bangoura called on the international community to pressure authorities to reject the new legislation.
“When individual freedoms, in particular the most sacred – privacy between consenting adults – are attacked, then there is little time left to realize that democracy is in danger,” he said.
Same-sex relations remain taboo in many socially conservative African societies, where some religious groups have branded it a corrupting Western import. It is legal in only 22 of Africa’s 54 countries and punishable by death or lengthy prison terms in others, according to ILGA.
In Senegal, LGBT+ activists also face smear campaigns and death threats, according to international rights group Amnesty International.
Neighboring Ghana is also considering an anti-LGBT+ law that would lengthen jail terms and force some to undergo “conversion therapy” intended to change a person’s sexual orientation.
So-called conversion therapies, also known as reparative treatments, rely on the assumption that sexual orientation can be changed or “cured” – an idea discredited by major medical associations in the United Kingdom, the United States and elsewhere. The practice has been banned in several countries, including in Canada and for people below the age of 18 in Germany.