(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists)
Homosexuality is reportedly legal in the Ivory Coast; however, homosexual acts committed in public are criminalized in Article 360 of the Penal Code (unofficial translation):
‘Whoever commits an outrage against public decency will be punished with three months to two years imprisonment and a fine of 50,000 to 500,000 francs.
If the outrage against public decency consists of an indecent of unnatural act with an individual of the same sex, the imprisonment will be from six months to two years and a fine of 50,000 to 300,000 francs.
The punishment can be doubled if the offence was committed with a minor or in the presence of a minor less than 18 years of age.’
According to Toure Clavier, the president of the NGO Alternatives Cote d’Ivoire (ACI), the Penal Code criminalizes homosexuality in public, not as an act but as indecent behavior. As long as a homosexual act is performed within one’s own home, then that it is not a crime and is tolerated by the authorities.
Carlos Idibouo, former chairman of one of the LGBTI NGOs that is active in the Ivory Coast, Arc-en-Ciel, is now living in Canada as a refugee because of his public identification as a gay leader.
PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND/OR STATE’S CAPACITY TO PROTECT
Despite the law, the LGBTI community risks harassment and discrimination in the Ivory Coast. According to former chairman of Arc-en-Ciel, Carlos Idibouo, the police forces are the first and worst transgressors of discrimination and assault. Transsexuals are often victims of sexual abuse. Homosexuals are victims of all sorts of violence: moral, verbal, physical, and sexual. According to the 2010 US Department of State’s Human Rights Report, homosexuals were subjected to ‘beatings, imprisonment, verbal abuse, humiliation, and extortion by police, gendarmes, and members of the armed forces.’ As a result, the LGBTI community isolates itself. According to the Report, the social stigmatization of persons living with HIV/AIDS is also prevalent.
LGBTI people who run away from home oftentimes have to turn to prostitution. Yet even at home they face being forced into prostitution by their own parents who are willing to tolerate their lifestyle as long as they are bringing home money. As soon as they are not lucrative enough, the families will no longer tolerate their sexual orientation and make them leave home.
According to Toure Clavier, ‘members of gay communities… travel to Ivory Coast for meetings, exchanges, projects, and self-fulfillment in general.’ He believes that the Ivory Coast is a sort of ‘Eldorado’ for the LGBTI community in the region and that there is no official discrimination based on sexual orientation. The LGBTI community is becoming increasingly more visible and tolerated, especially with the introduction of two gay nightclubs in the country (Abidjan is Becoming Gay Eldorado).
The UN’s Universal Periodic Review recommended that the Ivory Coast take measures to ensure non-discrimination, which was accepted by the government. However, it did not accept the additional recommendation to implement an awareness-raising program on these grounds, justifying that it was not a ‘current priority’.
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs)
We are not currently aware of any organisations working with LGBTI persons in Cote d’Ivoir, but welcome suggestions.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SPECIALISTS
We have no specialist on LGBTI for Ivory Coast, but would welcome suggestions.
Researched by: Rhiannon Archer