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Teens arrested for same-sex dancing as nationwide ‘gay hunt’ begins in Burundi

Josh Jackman October 12, 2017
A protestor gestures on January 22, 2015 in Dakar during a demonstration against homosexuality. Under Senegalese law, anyone convicted of an "improper or unnatural act with a person of the same sex" faces up to five years in jail. The government has repeatedly ruled out legalising homosexuality in the deeply conservative Muslim-majority country. Banner reads "No fag". / AFP / SEYLLOU (Photo credit should read SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images)

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Two gay teens have been arrested for dancing together.

Police in Burundi have begun a nationwide official hunt for gay people, as the government cracks down on its LGBT population.

The move came two days after police arrested seven other LGBT people, two of whom were children.

Moroccan activists carrying lit candles and flags participate in a vigil in Rabat on June 15, 2016, pay tribute to the victims of the Orlando gay club shooting. Forty-nine people were killed in the US resort city of Orlando this week when Omar Mateen sprayed a gay nightclub with bullets during a three-hour siege. / AFP / FADEL SENNA        (Photo credit should read FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)
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The Burundi government made being gay illegal in 2009, when it secretly signed a ban into law.

Homosexuality is still punishable in the country by up to two years imprisonment and a fine of 100,000 francs.

Victims are being held in prison and asked to pay large bribes for their freedom, which many of them cannot afford.

Jean Daniel Ndikumana, an LGBT rights advocate from Burundi, said he believes police found a video of the men dancing together on Facebook, according to GSN.

“I was afraid when I saw this video, given the situation of Burundi for LGBTI people,” he said.

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza (Getty)
Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza (Getty)

“I know them very well because I was their project manager from 2010 to 2013.”

The activist, who now lives in Belgium, added: “Thankfully, I was able to leave my country because of my sexual orientation, as I was in danger due to my activism.”

The African country was one of 13 – including the US – to vote against a UN motion this month which moved to condemned the death penalty for homosexuality.

Burundi’s crackdown comes as other countries conduct similar police actions targeted at LGBT people.

People holding rainbow flags and umbrellas take part in the Gay Pride parade in Entebbe on August 8, 2015. Ugandan activists gathered for a gay pride rally, celebrating one year since the overturning of a strict anti-homosexuality law but fearing more tough legislation may be on its way. Homosexuality remains illegal in Uganda, punishable by a jail sentence. AFP PHOTO/ ISAAC KASAMANI        (Photo credit should read ISAAC KASAMANI/AFP/Getty Images)
Uganda Pride parade (Getty)

Elsewhere in Africa, Egyptian authorities have made at least 33 arrests in recent weeks.

A number of people were detained last month after a rainbow flag was waved at a concert by the Lebanese band Mashrou Leila, whose lead singer is openly gay.

Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza (Getty)
Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza (Getty)

And the incident sparked a wider police action, with reports that Egyptian authorities have begun actively targeting the gay community.

In Azerbaijan, at least 100 people have been detained, beaten and forced to give up friends to authorities, according to activists in the country.

Some of those detained have reportedly had their heads shaved for the purposes of humiliation.

More: Africa, Africa, anti-gay arrests, arrests, Azerbaijan, Burundi, Burundi, crackdown, Dancing, detained, Egypt, Gay, Homophobia, police, teenagers, teens

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