Queer political subjectivities in Senegal: gaining a voice within new religious landscapes of belonging

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This paper examines how homosexuality has become a subject of political contestation in Senegal, beginning in the late 2000s and continuing to the present. Repression of same-sex sexuality reached a peak in February 2008 after a Senegalese tabloid, Icône, published 20 photos of an allegedly gay marriage, and 5 men were subsequently put into custody. Based on fieldwork research and several interviews conducted in the cities of Dakar, Thies and Mbour, this paper explores the rise of new types of political demands and discourses related to homosexuality in Senegal. First, this paper analyses the condemnation of homosexuality by some Senegalese religious groups, such as the religious association Djamra/Jamra. This condemnation of same-sex intimacy is motivated by an attempt to regenerate religious and cultural values. Second, it focuses on the political claims and participatory politics of gay and lesbian Senegalese citizens in this hostile environment. This paper outlines how current discourses on homosexuality are embedded in Senegal in a set of fractured representations of togetherness and belonging. Finally, drawing on theories of ‘political subjectivities’, this paper highlights some of the ways queer identities manage to gain a voice in a country where same-sex practices are legally prohibited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-364
JournalCritical African Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • same-sex sexualities
  • political subjectivities
  • belonging
  • Senegal


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