Jean-Luc Mélenchon booed on the question of homosexuality in Senegal

17 May 2024 / Interviews

Traveling in Senegal, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of La France Insoumise, encountered heated reactions during a conference at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar. Invited by the Pastef party of Prime Minister Ousmane Sonko, Mélenchon addressed several subjects of convergence between the two parties, but notable differences appeared, particularly on the question of homosexual marriage.

Senegal, a conservative country where Islam is the majority religion, prohibits homosexual relations, punishable by one to five years in prison. This position contrasts with that of Mélenchon, a fervent defender of LGBT rights in France, where he was the first legislator to introduce legislation on same-sex marriage. This law, adopted in 2013, today allows more than 70 homosexual couples to live married.

During his speech, Ousmane Sonko expressed Senegal's resistance to what he perceives as external attempts to impose lifestyles contrary to Senegalese values, particularly highlighting homosexuality. In response, Mélenchon affirmed his position: “I am the first French legislator who tabled a text of law regarding the possibility of homosexual marriage. I assume my political position. If we can't talk to each other honestly, we don't talk to each other. »

Despite his insistence on respecting cultural and legislative differences between nations, Mélenchon did not convince his Senegalese audience. When he talked about how France had resolved this issue through voting, he was booed. “I will not seek to impose it on you, but there is no point in warding off this divergence,” he declared. “You will do as you wish, and so will we. »

Ousmane Sonko responded by denouncing what he perceives as intolerance on the part of those who deny Senegal the right to legislate according to its own values. He also criticized France for its silence during repressions against his political camp under former President Macky Sall.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon's visit to Senegal highlights the deep cultural and political differences between the two countries, particularly on the issue of LGBT rights. Although points of convergence exist, these divergences show the challenges of international dialogue on sensitive societal subjects. Mélenchon, while reaffirming his progressive positions, recognized the complexity of these discussions and the right of nations to follow their own path.