Gay activist killed in Sierra Leone

A New York-based human rights group on Tuesday urged authorities in Freetown, Sierra Leone, to track down those responsible for the brutal murder of a prominent gay activist in this West African nation's capital.

FannyAnn Eddy, the 30-year-old founder of the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association, was found dead on September 29 in her office in Freetown, Human Rights Watch said in a statement. She had been repeatedly raped and stabbed, and her neck was broken, the organization said.

"The authorities in Sierra Leone must investigate this crime fairly and fully," said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Project at Human Rights Watch. "They must send a message to a frightened lesbian and gay community that violence against them will not go unpunished."

Authorities in Sierra Leone were not immediately available for comment.

Eddy's group was founded in 2002 and "provided social and psychological support to a fearful and underground community," Human Rights Watch said, calling Eddy "a person of extraordinary bravery and integrity."

"Again and again, within her country's borders and beyond, she drew attention to the harassment, discrimination, and violence lesbian and gay people face in Sierra Leone," Long said. "Now she has been murdered in the offices of the organization she founded, and there is grave concern that she herself has become a victim of hatred."

In April, Eddy testified before the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in Geneva about gay rights in Sierra Leone. "We face constant harassment and violence from neighbors and others," Eddy told the commission, according to Human Rights Watch. "Their homophobic attacks go unpunished by authorities, further encouraging their discriminatory and violent treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people."

Tags: World, World

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