Two seventeen-year-old boys are to stand trial in Senegal this week for being gay, an international gay rights group says.

The two boys from the religious town of Darou Mousty in northern Senegal will stand trial for “homosexual acts” in a juvenile court in Louga, the region's capital.

“This is yet another indication that gay men and those perceived to be gay are in grave danger in Senegal,” Cary Alan Johnson, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), said in a statement. “The arrests violate both international and African human rights law. Unpopularity is never a justification for abuse.”

Another three men from Darou Mousty were also arrested along with the teenagers in June and have been sentenced to serve prison time after being tried in an adult court.

The young men were arrested in a private house amid claims of “questionable” activities by a neighbor.

IGLHRC officials say human rights abuses against gay men in particular have been escalating since early 2008 in the largely Muslim nation.

In February 2008, ten people were charged with “homosexuality, incitement to debauchery and corruption of good behavior” for attending a ceremony that affirmed the gay union of two men. In January, nine Senegalese men were found guilty of being gay and given a harsh eight year sentence. The men, including a prominent AIDS activist, were sentenced in Dakar on charges of “indecent and unnatural acts” and “forming associations of criminals.” The men were cleared of the charges by Senegal's court of appeals in April.

Anti-gay sentiment in Africa has been on the rise in recent years, including in Ethiopia, where religious leaders want to constitutionally ban being gay, Nigeria, where lawmakers have introduced legislation that would criminalize associating with a known gay person, and Gambia, where its president has called for the beheading of gay men and women.