Touré Claver, president of Alternative Côte d’Ivoire an NGO which fights against homophobia, dreams of a gay pride in Ivory Coast, but cannot imagine one happening soon.Claver, whose organisation also promotes healthcare for sexual minority groups is doubtful that such a celebration for gays could happen in the near future due to negative, violent incidents such as happened a while ago in the Ivory Coast city of Abidjan. At theta time, the public violently opposed a demonstration by Toure and a group of others organised after a doctor had denied medical care to a homosexual patient simply because of his sexual orientation.
However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In a recent interview with Radio Netherlands Worldwide, RNW, Claver and other activists expressed hope for gay rights eventually citing facts such as the law which only criminalises homosexuality in Article 360 of the Penal Code, not as an act but as indecent behaviour; and only when performed in public.
Activists and legal experts in Ivory Coast suggest that therefore, “as long as homosexual acts are performed behind closed doors, there is no crime, so that’s all right as far as the authorities are concerned.”
However as far as Claver is concerned, there is a judicial gap in the law impeding its implementation.
RNW reported that Claver described Ivory Coast as an Eldorado in comparison with other countries in the region where homosexuality is criminalised.
“Members of gay communities from across the region and around the globe travel to Ivory Coast for meetings, exchanges, projects and self-fulfilment in general. In Abidjan, the number of gay people living openly is increasing steadily”, reported the Radio Netherlands in Africa show.
The US Department of State’s 2009 Human Rights Report found that “societal stigmatization of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community was widespread, and the government did not act to counter it during the year. There were few LGBT organizations in the country.”
However the Report further found that, “Arc en Ciel, the primary NGO representing the LGBT community, operated freely; although, the government required the organization to amend its by-laws to include non-LGBT members before the organization’s status was officially approved.”
The report also found that “there was no official discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, statelessness, or access to education or health care. However, gay men were subjected to beatings, imprisonment, verbal abuse, humiliation, and extortion by police, gendarmes, and members of the armed forces.”