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Gay Men Attacked in Ivory Coast Blame US Embassy Photo

They say they were outed as gay by the embassy
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 29, 2016 2:32 PM CDT

(Newser) – Gay men in Ivory Coast are being attacked by angry mobs and forced from their homes, and they blame the US embassy. The AP reports the US embassy recently published on its website a photo of six men signing a "condolence book" at the embassy in Abidjan for victims of the massacre at Orlando gay club Pulse. The photo's caption identifies the men as members of the "LGBTI community." The men say when the photo was shared around social media, it destroyed their lives. "I don't have a life anymore," one of them tells the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "I can't go out. I don't know who might recognize me.” He says he was confronted by a mob while walking near his home. They beat him and stole his phone and wallet.

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Two of the six men say they were attacked by mobs yelling anti-gay slurs. Four say they were forced out of their homes by friends and family who didn't know they were gay before the photo was published. All six have left their homes. A press officer for the US embassy, which hasn't removed the photo, says it "deeply regrets that any individuals were attacked based on any kind of orientation they might have." The embassy was given permission to publish the photo by the director of an Ivory Coast gay rights group. He now says he wouldn't have given permission if he was aware the men would be outed in the caption. Homosexuality isn't illegal in Ivory Coast, but violence against the gay community is common despite the country's reputation for relative tolerance of sexual minorities. (Read more Ivory Coast stories.)

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