A group of gay men in Ivory Coast have been attacked, beaten and verbally abused after they signed a condolence book for victims of the Orlando massacre.
The men took part in the ceremony at the US Embassy in the capital Abidjan two weeks ago, on the same day that the country’s Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan also signed the book.
Unfortunately, the embassy published a picture of the men in the midst of the signing on its website, with the caption: “LGBTI community signing the condolence book.”
According to Thomson Reuters Foundation, the image was quickly shared on social media and used to target the men.
In separate incidents, two of the victims were punched and kicked by mobs while being subjected to anti-gay slurs. Four other men were also subjected to verbal abuse. All six have fled their homes in fear for their lives.
“I can’t go out. I don’t know who might recognise me,” said one of the victims.
The embassy has since removed the image and has apologised. It appears there was a miscommunication between embassy staff and local LGBTI activists on the appropriateness of it being posted.
Sex between consenting adults of the same sex is legal in Ivory Coast, but LGBTI people have no specific protection from discrimination under the law.
Forty-nine people were shot dead by Omar Mateen when he opened fire on hundreds of revellers inside the Pulse gay nightclub on June 12. He was shot by officers who stormed the venue. Around 50 people were also injured in the attack.