Senegal investigates homophobic attack feared by crowd

Senegalese police said on Wednesday they were investigating a possible anti-gay attack by a mob, an incident coinciding with a storm over a soccer star’s apparent refusal to join a campaign against homophobia in Europe.

Videos began circulating on Tuesday evening showing a mob in the center of the capital Dakar beating a man and hurling homophobic slurs at him.

Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric has increased on social media in Senegal since Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) footballer and Senegalese international Idrissa Gana Gueye allegedly refused to wear a rainbow jersey during a match in France Saturday.

Despite criticism in France, Gueye has received a flood of support in Senegal, including backing from President Macky Sall.

In multiple videos posted to YouTube and TikTok, an angry mob of several dozen people can be seen in broad daylight surrounding a barefoot young man wearing only boxer shorts.

They are seen holding him tightly by the wrists and slapping his back and head as blood pours into his neck and chest.

One member of the crowd is heard shouting in Wolof: “Homosexuality will not be accepted in Senegal”, while another calls the man a “dirty homosexual” and says: “Let’s kill him before the police arrived “.

Another person is heard shouting, “He doesn’t deserve to live.”

In one clip, a crowd shouting homophobic slurs gathers outside a police station in the HLM district of central Dakar.

A policeman told AFP journalists on Wednesday that the young man had been brought there the day before. No information was given on his condition.

A witness to the incident told AFP he thought the young man was a foreigner and that “a hundred” people dragged him to the police station.

He was “bleeding from wounds in his head and feet”, the witness said.

An online survey shows that the videos, viewed several thousand times, are recent, although the time and date are unclear. AFP was unable to establish their source.

A police official, also speaking on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the case, confirmed on Wednesday that an investigation was underway.

In many parts of Africa, same-sex relationships are taboo or even criminalized.

In Senegal, where 95% of the population is Muslim, so-called “acts against nature” with a person of the same sex are punishable by law with one to five years in prison.

Members of the LGBTQ community say homophobic attacks and incidents have increased in recent years, with a number of people fleeing the country.

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