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October 7, 2008


Pape Mbaye (pronounced POP mm-BYE), 24, is an entertainer from Dakar, Senegal. He was well known throughout West Africa for his dancing, singing and storytelling. This year however, his flamboyance and notoriety attracted the wrong kind of attention and it nearly cost him his life.

Last February a Senegalese magazine published photographs of what they said was an underground gay marriage. Mbaye appeared in the photos and the magazine claimed that he had organized the event. Pape said that in the ensuing six months he was harassed by the police, attacked by armed mobs, driven from his home, maligned in the national media and forced to live on the run.

According to the New York Times;

For the past few years, anti-gay hysteria has been sweeping across swaths of Africa, fueled by sensationalist media reports of open homosexuality among public figures and sustained by deep and abiding taboos that have made even the most hateful speech about gays not just acceptable but almost required. Gay men and women have recently been arrested in Cameroon, Nigeria, Uganda and Ghana, among other countries.

“In most countries there is poverty and instability, and usually homosexuality is used as a way of shifting the attention from the actual problem to this thing that is not really the problem but can distract the public,” said Joel Nana, who is from Cameroon and who works for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

Christopher Nugent, who is a senior pro bono counsel specializing in refugee and asylum cases with the Washington based law firm Holland & Knight, represented Mbaye in his petition. Nugent said that Mbaye's case was exceptional because his fame made his situation particularly perilous. “He was vilified in the Senegalese media as being the face of the sinful homosexual, and he had scars to show.”

In July, the United States government gave him refugee status. That was one of the rare instances when refugee protection has been granted to a foreigner facing persecution based on sexual orientation.

To read the full story, go to: New York Times


Queers United said...

its about time, im so sad to hear about all these cases where ppl dont gain asylum.