Two gay men were jailed in a coastal city in the Ivory Coast even though there’s no law banning same-sex relationships in the country.
The men, identified by the Guardian as Yann and Abdoul, are gay but deny romantic involvement with one another. They believe they were charged with public indecency, but prosecutors have refused to confirm the charge.
Yann and Abdoul served three months in prison, after a trial without lawyers where they declined appeal because they thought the appeal process could take longer than the prison sentence.
“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,” Yann said.
News of the men’s conviction was slow to reach the country’s largest city of Abidjan, where many of the country’s LGBT activists reside. The first Ivorian newspaper to cover the story did so after the conviction was already reached and the men had decided not to appeal.
After being released from an overcrowded prison, they have decided to go to Abidjan, a city of relative safety for LGBT people in West Africa.
Graeme Reid of Human Rights Watch is still asking why the men were convicted. “The government needs to come clean and offer an explanation to these two young men who have spent three months in jail for no apparent reason.”