Despite popularity, Obama hits wall in Africa over gay rightsAround the Nation, Breaking News, Online Only, Top Highlights Friday, June 28th, 2013
Propelled by two historic rulings for same-sex couples by the U.S. Supreme Court, President Obama was bluntly rebuked over his stance on gay rights on the second stop of his three-country tour in Africa. Visiting Senegal, the president proclaimed, “I want the African people just to hear what I believe,” Mr. Obama said at a news conference with Senegalese President Macky Sall. “People should be treated equally. That’s a principle that I think applies universally.” Sall responded with an equally forceful message. ““We are still not ready to decriminalize homosexuality,” he said. “We are still not ready to change the law.”
Senegal is one of 38 countries in Africa that criminalize homosexuality. Four – Sudan, Nigeria, Mauritania and Somaliland – proscribe the death penalty for homosexual acts. And despite Sall’s claim that Senegal is a “tolerant” country, a report in the Toronto Globe and Mail indicates that 96 percent of the population finds homosexuality ‘unacceptable’ under any circumstance.
“Homophobic attacks and harassment across sub-Saharan Africa are becoming more visible, indicating the homophobia is reaching dangerous levels,” Amnesty International was quoted as saying in the article. “In too many cases, these attacks on individuals and groups are being fueled by key politicians and religious leaders.”
In Senegal, where the president remains enormously popular despite his views on the topic, gay men are frequently beaten, arrested and jailed. In one recent attack, gay men’s bodies were exhumed from their graves, desecrated and dragged through the streets.
Africans have long believed that were it not for Western colonization, homosexuality would fail to exist in their homelands. Many wrongly believe that the British were responsible for the import of it, despite the fact that homosexuality was long tolerated in many parts of the country throughout history. Historical evidence suggests that the British were responsible for the laws codifying criminality for homosexual acts.
President Obama’s last stop is in Tanzania were people charged with crimes against nature face life imprisonment.
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