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Ivory Coast: Mob attacks gay rights group office

BY ROBBIE COREY-BOULET
ASSOCIATED PRESS

DAKAR, Senegal -- A mob has ransacked the headquarters of Ivory Coast's most prominent gay rights organization, underscoring the dangers confronting such groups even in the few African countries where homosexual acts are not crimes.

The violence followed days of anti-gay protests in Ivory Coast, which is sometimes considered a safe haven for homosexuals fleeing persecution elsewhere across the continent. It contributed to a growing sense that activists championing gay rights in Africa are under siege, with countries working to strengthen existing laws that criminalize homosexuality. A new law in Nigeria bans all gay associations, and lawmakers in Uganda may well override their president's opposition and approve a bill imposing life prison terms for consenting same-sex partners who engage in repeated sexual acts.

Some human rights activists view the crackdown as a backlash at pressure from the United States and European countries that say they will use their leverage to promote the human rights of gay people around the world. Britain has threatened to cut aid to countries that outlaw homosexuality, and the Obama administration two years ago instructed "all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons."

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