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Malian LGBT activist finds new home in Paris

Malian LGBT activist finds new home in Paris

France

Louis fled his native Mali to escape persecution for his sexuality and support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community back home.

Louis had been working as a team leader for an NGO, giving talks on HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, with a focus on gays and lesbians.

One evening, Louis received a call from a neighbour warning him not to go home, because there were some men waiting for him, who had sworn to kill him.

As soon as I arrived, before I even knocked on the door, there was a sign saying - welcome Louis.

He never went home again, leaving without taking anything or telling his friends and family.

After a long and hazardous journey, Louis was linked by an organisation to Armand and Christophe, a couple in France, who agreed to host him in their Parisian flat.

The pair, who travel a lot, say they are open-minded and are aware of the rights and freedoms they enjoy in France compared to other parts of the world.

The couple are among many ordinary citizens across Europe who have opened their homes to refugees in recent years.

“As soon as I arrived, before I even knocked on the door, there was a sign saying – welcome Louis,” said Louis.

“I think it’s important to be able to show openness to other cultures and tolerance. That’s how we will actually build a better world, a world of peace,” said Armand.

Armand and Christophe had no spare room in their small apartment but decided to instal a foldaway bed in their living room for Louis.

Louis and his hosts have been featured in ‘No stranger Place’ a photo series that profiles refugees and their hosts across Europe.

After being on show in London, Berlin, Vienna and Stockholm, the exhibition is now on display at Ground Control in Paris.

“When I was small at school, the teacher would ask us to draw. I would always draw the Eiffel Tower. Now I live in Paris, next to the Eiffel Tower!” said Louis.

African countries have some of the most prohibitive laws against homosexuality in the world – same-sex relationships are a crime across much of the continent and can lead to imprisonment or the death penalty.

Reuters

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