Senegal: Islamic group storm homosexual art exhibition


The group led by Mame Mactar Guèye, vice-president of the organisation, demanded the closure of all exhibitions at the place related to homosexuality. The mob threatened to return and continue their destruction but the Senegalese state ordered the immediate closure of the exhibition. The government subsequently ruled that exhibitions which address the issue of homosexuality must be closed or canceled, according to a report by Le Monde newspaper. 

In a further interview, Guèye explained: “The exhibition [a collateral event to the Dakar Biennale, Dak’Art], was supposed to promote our culture, but it proves to be propaganda for unions which are against nature. Undeniably, this edition has been detrimental to our morality and to our laws.”

Dak’Art’s secretary general, Babacar Mbaye Diop said the biennial was “not responsible for collateral exhibitions,” only the works in Dak’Art itself.


The exhibition that brought about the controversy was titled Imagerie précaire, visibilité gay en Afrique (Precarious Imaging: Visibility and Media Surrounding African Queerness) featuring the works of Kader Attia, Jim Chuchu, Andrew Esiebo, Amanda Kerdahi M, and Zanele Muholi.

“Ultimately, fear of the other has struck once again,” Berlin-based artist Kader Attia told his network of friends in an email.

Across much of the African continent, anti-homosexual sentiments are becoming increasingly formalised. “In terms of a continental movement, most of the legislating is occurring on the conservative side,” journalist J Lester Feder told Monocle24 over the weekend, speaking broadly about the trends in LGBT rights in Africa. 

In Senegal, open homosexuality can warrant prison time. At the end of last year, Nigeria and Uganda passed strict anti-homosexuality legislation, joining 37 other African natures with legally formalised discrimination against the LGBT community.  “It’s tempting to talk about it being a global polarisation where you have the Americas and Europe moving in one direction, Africa, Russia, and other parts of eastern Europe moving in the other direction,” Feder continued.

Last month, Raw Material Company director Koyo Kouoh told Le Monde that although Senegalese society was very conformist, she didn’t believe that exhibitions like Imagerie précaire, visibilité gay en Afrique would fall outside the realm of possibility within the country. Rather, she explained that she hoped art was a field within which Senegal’s norms could be productively transgressed.