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Obama raises equality issues around gay rights in Africa

U.S. President Barack Obama's backing of equal gay rights came face to face with the reality of a continent that largely criminalizes same-sex relationships.

The delicate subject cropped up on Thursday in Senegal on Obama's first stop of a three-country tour where he told Africans that gay people deserve equality under the law.

"I want the African people to just hear what I believe," said Obama, speaking in one of Africa's 38 states that outlaw homosexuality.

"My basic view is that regardless of race, regardless of religion, regardless of gender, regardless of sexual orientation, when it comes to how the law treats you ... people should be treated equally."

His Senegalese counterpart Macky Sall responded that though Senegal was "very tolerant", it was "not ready yet to decriminalize homosexuality".

Rights group Amnesty International warned this week that homophobia in sub-Saharan Africa reached "dangerous levels".

"Religious leaders too, sometimes influenced by U.S.-based churches, have contributed to the climate of fear and loathing," rights group Amnesty International said.

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