Senegal journalist convicted of engaging in homosexual acts, gets 6-month prison term

US President Barack Obama (left) and Senegal President Macky Sall shake hands after their joint news conference at the Presidential Palace on June 27, 2013 in Dakar, Senegal.Reuters

A well-known journalist in Muslim-dominated Senegal was slapped with a six-month prison term on Friday for engaging in acts of homosexuality, which are deemed illegal in the West African country.

A court handed out the sentence to magazine columnist Tamsir Jupiter Ndiaye after he was arrested in June following an accusation of attempted rape made against him by his alleged male victim.

Ndiaye, who had previously been convicted of engaging in homosexual acts, was chased by an angry mob before taking shelter in a Dakar police station.

In 2012, Ndiaye was sentenced to four years in prison for acts of homosexuality, illegal possession of arms and battery.

His sentence was downgraded to two years and he was paroled in 2013.

Senegal considers homosexual acts as illegal. Such acts are punishable by up to five years in prison and fines of up to $2,500.

Senegal President Macky Sall, who won the post last year in West Africa's oldest democracy, said although homosexual acts are illegal in Senegal, homosexuals are not persecuted and are treated fairly.

"We are not homophobic," he said. "Senegal is a country that respects freedoms. Gays are not persecuted, but for now they must accept the choices of other Senegalese."

US President Barack Obama, who pushed for gay rights in Africa, said: "When it comes to how the state treats people, how the law treats people, I believe that everybody has to be treated equally."

However, Obama, who flew to Senegal in June, said he has not specifically discussed the issue with Sall.

Human rights organisation Amnesty International urged Obama to speak out against threats to gays and lesbians in his trip to Africa.

Two-thirds of African countries consider homosexuality as a criminal offence.

Even consensual same-sex conduct is illegal in 38 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, some of which are aiming to execute new laws that increase existing penalties, said Amnesty International.

Abuse of gay men, including torture and ill-treatment, especially by the police, is reportedly widespread.