PHOTO: Alternative Côte d'Ivoire
Extremely disturbing news from West Africa. The home and offices of three LGBT activists in the Côte d’Ivoire were targeted by violent mob attacks on three successive days in late January.
The large and violent crowd "shouted death threats, hurled rocks and garbage and protested" before ransacking their offices in an upscale neighborhood of Abidjan—the largest city and commercial capital of the Ivory Coast——reports the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights.
On January 20, an angry crowd converged on the home of Claver Touré, the director of Alternative Côte d'Ivoire, shouting repeated death threats and homophobic slurs. Over the course of nearly an hour, the mob attempted to break down the doors of his home while also throwing garbage and human excrement over its security wall. Local police arrived on the scene just as some members of the crowd were preparing Molotov cocktails.
Unruly actions continued the following day outside of Touré's home, forcing him to vacate and to seek shelter inside the offices of Alternative Côte d'Ivoire, where staff members Marc Arthur Able and Béranger Gadié were already residing in fear for their lives.
On January 22, following credible reports of a more "virulent attack" yet to come, an estimated mob of 200 people targeted the office, ransacking the premises and injuring an on-duty security guard. Reports have indicated that local security forces were slow to respond to the incident, following repeated calls for help. Police reportedly arrived on the scene only after the French ambassador directly contacted government officials.
More details on the brutal January 20 attack at 76 Crimes:
[A]bout 60 people had assembled outside, whistling and banging on pots and pans. They threatened the occupants of the “faggot house,” shouting, “We will kill them,” “We don’t want fags in our city,” “We don’t want people with AIDS in our neighborhood,” “We’ll kill you all,” “We don’t want people working with AIDS and queers here,” “Damn you! We’ll burn your ass.”
Recent years have seen a sharp escalation in anti-gay legislation and attacks in nearby Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia but until now that largely has not been the case in the Côte d'Ivoire. Sodomy laws were never criminalized in this former French colony.
Radio Netherlands Worldwide Africa reported in late 2011 that "gays are becoming increasingly visible" in Abidjan. Alternative Côte d'Ivoire Executive Director Claver Touré—who was targeted by the violent attacks in January—was quoted and described the Ivory Coast as an 'El Dorado" for LGBTs compared to most other African nations.
Same-sex acts are currently illegal in at least 38 of 54 African countries. Four nations—Mauritania, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan—boast the death penalty for gays or same-sex activity. South Africa and Seychelles are the only African nations that protect LGBT rights. South Africa is the only African nation that mandates equal marriage.
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