Senegal has quite a history when it comes to LGBTQ rights- better yet the lack thereof- but as of 2018, it has become the norm for people of the community to only leave their houses at night when they will not be seen.
Since the year 2008, the violence against the LGBT community (partially gay men and transgender women) has steadily been on the rise.
First starting in 2009, a man photographed at a gay wedding died of AIDS, and this angered people in the community who dragged and discredited his body, dropping it front of his parents house.
Oscar Lopez, a writer from the “Daily Beast” tells the story of Badou Ndiaye, 32, a gay man living in Dakar, who fled in 2008 to flee the dangers of the government to Mauritania, a country not to far from his home. There, the penalties for being gay is not much better, for the country is apparently fairly corrupt and can easily be bought. However, after being frequently arrested during his time there, Ndiaye went back to his country which was “calm” during 2010.
The sense of safety did not last long when President Obama came to Senegal to advocate LGBT rights to its president in 2013, who adamantly refused.
Not too long after this conversation, there was a countywide crackdown that landed the leader of women’s right shelters across in Senegal and many others in jail.
This backlash continued through 2015 when Ndiaye was once again thrown in jail while in Dakar and was detained for six months. And he is not the only one; it was reported that these type of arrests have made people feel uneasy and thinking of fleeing like Ndiaye did.
“The Daily Beast” always reports on how the stigma and persecution of the community has an negative impact on healthcare.
Although Senegal has tried to starting programs to take AIDS among gay or boisexual man, they do not succeed considering gay men or arrested before anyone is really concerned about their wealth.
This problem is the same among the transgender community as Marie, a young transgender women forced into sex work by her cousin after fleeing, contracted HIV. When she goes to get treatment, she is profiled (most of the time the first to arrive but often the last to get medicine) based on her appearance.
The issues in Senegal remain at a large with, sadly, not a lot set in place to tackle the issue.
Now in Hati, harmful laws and eprsuction of the lgbtQ commnity has been on the rise, getting worse after the earthquake.
Kouraj (Haiti for Courage) is the most prominent LGBT advocacy group, which has moved constantly do to constant attacks.
The last year of life in Haiti has been one of the hardest for people in the community, due to certain bills being discussed through the Senate. One that deprives “proven homosexuals” of good moral standing (alongside pedophiles and child pornographers) something required for acceptance into universities and expected part of job applications. Another that bans “demonstrations of support for homosexuality,” and would make so attending a same-sex wedding punishable by three years in prison and a fine of almost $8,000. Which is harsh along with the fatc gay marriage is legal either.
Although neither has been approved by the lower parliament, the thought of bills like these could become law is generating fear throughout the community.
This has become worse since the 2010 earthquake, which is, according to Chachou Jean Francois, a transgender group leader and youth educator at Kouraj, because of “…the arrival of foreign evangelicals imposing their views.
“They can’t do this in their home countries, where human rights are respected so they come to underdeveloped countries where they make people believe homosexuality is something abominable.”
These views have proven to be impactful, as a four-day LGBT film festival was planned in 2016, a senator shut it down, those involved received with threats, and was eventually formally shut down by the government. This outcry and was what sparked the bills drafted up now.
As of now, the people of the country are split, some blaming the thought of homosecxuality of western vlaues imposing on those of haitian ones, while some say, like before the homophobia itself was what is imposed on the society.
What is true that all memebers of the LGBTQ community, especially the young ones are using caution. Open violence against people of the community is the norm and the new laws are not making it better.
Kouraj continues to do their good work, saying they are, “trying to strike the right balance of being seen and heard while being careful.”