Politics & Government
3:42 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Undocumented in the US and illegal in Senegal, gay Senegalese artist faces deportation

A demonstration took place this afternoon in front of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices in Detroit.

Protestors gathered at 12:30 p.m. today asking for the release of Michael Mendy, a gay Senegalese artist who has lived in the U.S. for nearly 15 years. Michigan Radio's Kate Wells went to the demonstration and will bring us an update.

She shot this video:

Mlive's Gus Burns reported that after Mendy was shot three months ago during a robbery, police turned him over to immigration officials.

The group Michigan United is calling on ICE officials to stop his deportation.

From the group's website:

Michael Mendy is an artist from Senegal, living in Detroit.  He’s been in the US since 1998.  His work has been featured in beautiful stage shows in theaters and galleries in Michigan and across the country. In 2010, Michael was shot during a robbery, but instead of going after the robber, the police detained Michael and turned him over to ICE

If Mendy is deported, his future in Senegal would be uncertain.

Senegal, a predominantly Muslim country, does not tolerate homosexuality and punishes anyone caught practicing homosexual activity.

The Gay Star News reported that Senegal President Macky Sall said "same-sex acts" will remain illegal:

In a statement released today (12 April) by the presidency, he 'firmly stressed that the state has never considered such an option and it is totally excluded under my presidency,' reported the BBC.

Senegal, a conservative mainly Muslim country in the north west of Africa, specifically outalaws same-sex sexual acts; article 319 prohibits 'unnatural sexual acts' and punisheds homosexuality with one to five years imprisonment and a fine of 100,000 ($200) to 1,500,00 Senegal Francs ($2,000).

A 2007 Pew Global Attitudes survey found Senegal to be one of the most anti-LGBT countries in the world with 97 percent of those spoken to expressing anti-gay beliefs.

Advocates for Mendy, and others who seek asylum, also want a "general moratorium on deportations until legislators can create a path for citizenship for people like Mendy," Burns added.

-- Lucy Perkins, Michigan Radio Newsroom