A women’s rights activist has said that police in Senegal have detained five women accused of violating the country’s anti-gay law.

Associated Press reports Ndeye Kebe, president of the activist group Women’s Smile, said the women were arrested early Monday morning at a piano bar in the Yoff district of Dakar.

The oldest of the suspects, 31-year-old Sene Dieng, is reported to be an assistant director at Women’s Smile, which is the only activist group in Senegal to advocate for the rights of lesbians.

The arrested five women were expected to appear in court Tuesday.

Same-sex relationships are banned in Senegal and the maximum custodial sentence is five years imprisonment.

In September, Senegal’s New Justice Minister Sidiki Kaba ruled out legalising homosexuality in the country despite previously being a gay rights supporter and activist.

Kaba, who was previously the head of the International Federation for Human Rights, told reporters on Friday that he had dropped his opposition to the persecution of gay and lesbian people.

He said: ”I am a minister of justice who works in the context of a government and who expresses his views through those of the head of state which apply to all those who serve under him.”

President Sall earlier this year rebuked US President Barack Obama called for tolerance when he visited the country earlier this year. Mr Sall replied to Mr Obama by saying that: “We are still not ready to decriminalize homosexuality. I’ve already said it in the past. We’re still not ready to change the law. This does not mean that we are all homophobic.”

Amnesty International have called on countries in Africa to tackle the suffering and homophobia faced by LGBT people. 

In 2010, a report said that the bodies of dead gay men in Senegal were being unearthed by homophobic mobs and in some cases being left on their families’ doorsteps.