Ivory Coast: Security guard hospitalised after violent mob attacks office of gay rights group
A mob has stormed the office of a gay rights group in the Ivory Coast, following days of anti-gay protests in the capital.
According to Associated Press, a mob of nearly 200 people attacked the office of Alternative Cote d’Ivoir, a prominent local gay rights and HIV charity in Abidjan.
They smashed windows and ransacked the office, stealing computers and office supplies, and hospitalised a private security guard.
Claver Touré, the group’s executive director, said: “Everything they could take was taken, and the rest was broken.”
He also criticised the slow response from police, which he alleged was deliberate.
“When we call, the police need to come right away and protect us because we are Ivorians.”
Interior Ministry spokesman Bazoumana Coulibaly and government spokesman Bruno Kone both said police weren’t aware of the incident at the time.
According to human rights group Front Line Defenders, last week protesters gathered outside Mr Touré’s home, chanting anti-gay slogans and issuing death threats. Two days later Alternative Cote d’Ivoir’s offices were targeted for the first time, with signs placed outside equating homosexuals with paedophiles.
The Ivory Coast has not historically had problems with anti-gay violence, and is often a haven for gay people fleeing from violence elsewhere.
Human Rights Watch said in a statement that Ivorian authorities must “act swiftly to protect the activists and their supporters from any further violence.
It is one of the few countries in Africa that has never criminalised same-sex sexual activity, but it does not recognise same-sex relationships legally, and there is no legal protection from discrimination.