By Jean Marc Yao
Ivory Coast has a reputation as a land where LGBT people can find safety. The main basis for this reputation is that Ivory Coast’s laws do not criminalize homosexuality.
Nothing in the country’s laws refers to homosexuality or same-sex relations except for Article 360 of the Penal Code, which considers same-sex relations to be an aggravating circumstance in cases of of indecent assault.
This means that LGBT people do not have any special legal status in Ivory Coast, which neither gives them any particular protections nor threatens them with NY particular types of prosecution.
The laws of Ivory Coast are clear, but the Ivory Coast’s government’s attitudes are not. It is difficult to discern the government’s actual position on LGBT issues.
On one hand, Ivory Coast’s head of state [President Alassane Ouattara] prompted the National Commission on Human Rights (CNDHCI) to act in response to attacks against the LGBTI health and advocacy group Alternative Ivory Coast in January 2014.
However, on the other hand, the government led by President Ouattara also works against the protection of LGBT people. Two examples:
- At the U.N. Human Rights Council in September 2014, Ivory Coast voted against the resolution “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” (A / HRC / 27 / L .27 / Rev.1), a text that simply opposed violence and discrimination against individuals because of their sexual orientation and / or gender identity.
- At the U.N. Human Rights Council in June 2016, Ivory Coast voted against the resolution “Protection against violence and discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity” (A / HRC / 32 / L.2 / Rev.1), which proposed the creation of an independent U.N. expert on violence targeting people on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
It is worth noting that, in these votes, the Ivory Coast aligned itself with countries like Saudi Arabia, which may be a sign worth remembering. At a time when a new Ivorian constitution is being drafted, it’s important to remain vigilant.
Jean Marc Yao, Ph.D., is a human rights activist in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, with a strong interest in LGBTI rights issues. He works with the Ivorian League for Human Rights (LIDHO), Alternative Côte d’Ivoire and the Lesbian Life Association Ivory Coast. Contact him by e-mail via 76crimes (at) gmail.com.
- Ivory Coast police chief fired for ignoring anti-gay attack (September 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Ivory Coast: Activists under attack by anti-gay mobs (Jan. 24, 2014, 76crimes.com)
- Ivory Coast: Seeking help for LGBT activists under attack (Jan. 24, 2014, 76crimes.com)
- Anti-gay Ivory Coast attack sends guard to hospital (Jan. 25, 2014, 76crimes.com)
- Anti-gay attacks disrupt AIDS efforts in Ivory Coast (Jan. 29, 2014, 76crimes.com)
- Police block anti-gay violence in Senegal (Feb. 3, 2014, 76crimes.com)
- Global conflict: Gay rights, repression in Africa (Feb. 6, 2014, 76crimes.com)
- Commentary: Violence, hypocrisy imperil LGBT people in Ivory Coast (Feb. 10, 2014, 76crimes.com)