Analysis of representation of homosexuals in print media in Senegal
P. Bend1, K. Elfving2, C. Ibrahima Niang2, N. Thiam2
1Panos Global AIDS Programme, Port au Prince, Haiti, 2Panos Institute West Africa, Dakar, Senegal
recent years, the attitudes towards homosexuals in Senegal have become distinctly
harsher. Homosexuals are subjected to violence and discrimination.
Institute West Africa conducted a study between March to August 2009 to assess
the representation of homosexuals in the print media in Senegal. Data was collected
through a desk study review, an analysis of newspapers,
and interviews with media practitioners, lawyers and health agents.
Lessons learned: The
study shows that the print media plays an important role in increasing
homophobia in Senegal. The description of homosexuals in print media is
characterized by negative connotations, and not supported by scientific facts
or Senegalese history. Inequalities exist even in expressing opinions. While
political and religious organizations' can speak publically without being
pursued, organizations of homosexuals need to take significant risks if they
have to defend their positions. In the rare cases where homosexuals speak, their
statements are accompanied by discriminating descriptions in order for the
person interviewed to fit the image of perverse, abnormal or even dangerous
individuals. Consequently there is a strong need for homosexuals, to have
access to speak in media, and for media to have a broader understanding of the
issue to produce accurate, sensitive, non-discriminatory information, portraying
homosexuals as ordinary human beings.
- Increase sensitive reporting in the media on homosexuals by training the
national and local language media on: a)deontological and ethical rules; b)the recognition
of human rights including right to access HIV services, and c)the
reinterpretation of concepts of tolerance and civil peace in the main religious
- Facilitating interactions with sensitive journalists and MSM willing to
discuss their concerns.
- Stimulate public and policy debate on the study through dissemination of scientific
findings and first person accounts of homosexuals.
- Plan an advocacy strategy in a roundtable with
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