Ivory Coast officials have refused to explain why two gay men were arrested and jailed.
Yann, 31, and Abdoul, 19, are gay but say they are not in a relationship. They were arrested in October in a village for ‘public indecency’ and were released yesterday (25 January).
The Ivory Coast does not have a law explicitly banning homosexuality. However it is not unusual for African countries to use public indecency laws to jail LGBT people.
This is the first reported time the Ivory Coast has appeared to arrest a gay person on this arbitrary charge.
In an interview at prison, Yann said the case upended his life and prevented him from caring for his elderly mother.
‘I am the only son of my mother. My father is dead, so it’s me who takes care of her. But because of my nature, I am stuck here and I can’t take care of her,’ he said, as reported by The Guardian.
‘We were convicted in an unjust manner’
‘We were convicted in an unjust manner. If there is no law that that condemns it, I don’t understand how we could have been convicted.’
While Ivory Coast has long been considered to be more tolerant to LGBT people, there are no legal protections for sexual minorities.
Six men were forced to flee their homes in Abidjan last June. This happened after the US Embassy posted a photo of them signing the condolences book at an event held for the Orlando victims.