Dakar – One of Senegal’s most influential religious leaders said on Friday he “encouraged” all legal means of opposing homosexuality after a draft law toughening penalties for homosexuality failed to make it through parliament.
In Senegal, which is majority-Muslim, homosexual acts currently attract penalties of up to five years imprisonment and fines of up to $2 580 (2 285 euros).
“We encourage all legal means of combatting this odious crime and condemn all attempts to defend it,” Serigne Mountakha Mbacke, Caliph of the Mouride brotherhood, said in a statement.
He made no mention of the failed bill, which sought to increase custodial sentences for homosexual acts to between five and 10 years while trebling the maximum fine.
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Mbacke’s Mouride brotherhood is one of the most influential Sunni organisations in the west African country.
This Sufi order and other religious brotherhoods play an important spiritual and political role in Senegal and are highly influential.
“One of the most important goals of Islam is to protect children and shield society from corruption and moral depravity,” Mbacke’s statement added.
He “vigorously” condemned all attempts to promote homosexuality and said Senegalese tradition reserved “severe punishment” for such behaviour.
The draft anti-gay bill tabled this week targeted not only homosexuals but other LGBTQ groups.
However, the Office of the National Assembly – which assesses the merits of incoming bills – said on Wednesday the current penal code already punished homosexuality “severely”.
The government cites Senegalese cultural tradition as a reason for not decriminalising homosexuality.
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