Types of criminalisation

  • Criminalises sex between men
  • Criminalises sex between women
Penal Code 1965, Article 319 Unnatural Acts

Article 319 criminalises “unnatural acts” between people of the same sex with a penalty of up to five years imprisonment and a fine. Such acts between men and between women are criminalised.1



In the build up to the 2019 election, reports emerged of a wave of politically-motivated arrests of LGBT people, with two men and two women being arrested in September.


The US Department of State Human Rights Report on Senegal stated that the law was rarely enforced during the year. It was noted that this was a change from previous years, which saw several high-profile arrests of LGBT individuals.


The US Department of State Human Rights Report noted that LGBT individuals were often faced with arrest.


A report from the Canadian Immigration and Asylum Tribunal documented a number of arrests, some of which were successfully prosecuted.


In its first UPR cycle, Senegal discussed three cases that had been brought to the courts:

“The first case was an organized homosexual marriage with a lot of fuss, a lot of publicity. The police arrested them and the court case led to an acquittal.

The second case of homosexuals related to a foreign national, who was already rather elderly, who married a young Senegalese boy. And I’d like to warn you that this may be a cause for immigration. When an elderly man marries a young boy, the young boy does it so that he can emigrate and go and live in France or some other country abroad. That is the interest of the young person in getting married. That case led to a conviction, and an appeal was made against the conviction, and the conviction was quashed. The foreigner was able to leave the country freely after they were acquitted on appeal.

…The third case I’d mentioned to you was the case of human homosexuals who joined together, again with a great deal of fuss, carried out activities which led to disturbances in the neighbourhood. The neighbours complained and the police acted. This has already been tried for the first instance, an appeal has been made against that judgment, and the justice system is now dealing with this case independently on appeal.”

Statements by Public Figures


In September, Justice Minister of Senegal, Sidiki Kaba “ruled out” the legalisation of homosexuality, despite previously supporting LGBT rights, stating: “I am a Minister of Justice who works in the context of a Government and who expresses his views through those of the Head of State which apply to all those who serve under him”. When asked about his previous comments which came when he was head of the International Federation for Human Rights, Kaba replied: “I was expressing the position of my organisation”.

In an interview in June, President Macky Sall defended the Senegal’s choice to criminalise consensual same-sex acts: “We don’t ask the Europeans to be polygamists… 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”. The day previous, the President set out Senegal’s position on LGBT rights to US President Barrack Obama: “We are still not ready to decriminalize homosexuality… This does not mean we are homophobic”.

We are still not ready to decriminalize homosexuality… This does not mean we are homophobic.

Macky Sall, President of Senegal


Following the trial of nine men, a Senegalese court allegedly concluded that AIDES Senegal, a Senegalese group working to help MSM with HIV, was a “cover to recruit or organize meetings for homosexuals, under the pretext of providing HIV/AIDS prevention programmes”.

Persecution and Discrimination


According to the US Department of State Human Rights Report on Senegal, LGBT individuals were subject to “widespread discrimination, social intolerance, and acts of violence”, including “frequent threats, mob attacks, robberies, expulsions, blackmail, and rape”. LGBT activists also complained of discrimination in access to social services. During the July legislature elections, there was no anti-LGBT rhetoric as in previous years. The report further indicated that the media rarely reports on anti-LGBT hatred or violence.


In May, an LGBT art exhibition was shut down by the government after it was attacked by Islamic extremists.

Legislative News


During its third UPR cycle, Senegal noted all the recommendations it received concerning the decriminalisation of consensual same-sex relationships between adults and the need to strengthen efforts to address inequality, violence and discrimination against LGBT individuals.


During its second UPR cycle, Senegal rejected recommendations to decriminalise.

1. Penal Code 1965, Article 319 Unnatural Acts

“Without prejudice to the more serious penalties provided for in the preceding paragraphs or by articles 320 and 321 of this Code, whoever will have committed an improper or unnatural act with a person of the same sex will be punished by imprisonment of between one and five years and by a fine of 100,000 to 1,500,000 francs. If the act was committed with a person below the age of 21, the maximum penalty will always be applied.” Full text.

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