DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — As President Barack Obama hails yesterday's Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage as "a victory for American democracy," he's seeing first-hand that his views aren't shared in parts of the world.
Obama is in Africa -- where, according to Amnesty International, 38 countries criminalize homosexuality. In four of those countries, the punishment is death.
Obama is calling on Africans to give gays equal rights under the law. But his host for today's visit, President Macky Sall of Senegal, is rejecting that suggestion.
Sall says his country is "still not ready to decriminalize homosexuality." At the same time, he insists that Senegal is "very tolerant," and that it needs more time to consider the issue without pressure. He says, "This does not mean we are homophobic."
He tried to reassure Obama that gays are not persecuted in Senegal. But under the law there, "an improper or unnatural act with a person of the same sex" can be punished by up to five years in prison. And the head of a human rights group that works with homosexuals says she knows of "around a dozen people" who are in jail for homosexuality in Senegal.
Obama says the issue didn't come up in his private meeting today with the Senegalese leader.
161-a-12-(President Barack Obama, at news conference)-"under the law"-President Obama says the Supreme Court's rulings on gay marriage were a victory not just for gays and lesbians, but for American democracy as a whole. (27 Jun 2013)
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160-a-09-(President Barack Obama, at news conference)-"for American democracy"-President Obama says he's pleased with the high court's ruling on gay marriage. (27 Jun 2013)
<<CUT *160 (06/27/13)££ 00:09 "for American democracy"
GRAPHICSBANK: Barack Obama, as US President, and Macky Sall, as president of the Republic of Senegal, (l-r), Presidential Palace, Dakar, Senegal, graphic element on gray (27 Jun 2013)
GRAPHICSBANK: Barack Obama, as US President, and Macky Sall, as president of the Republic of Senegal, (r-l),over Senegal flag, lettering "OBAMA IN SENEGAL", finished graphic (27 Jun 2013)
APPHOTO SENK128: President Barack Obama walks past an honor guard as he arrives at the Presidential Palace in Dakar, Senegal, Thursday, June 27, 2013. In the background at left is first lady Michelle Obama. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) (27 Jun 2013)
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