Shocking Undercover Film Shows Cameroon A Homophobic Hotbed of Arrests

Watch as Short Film Exposes Severe Abuses and A Human Rights Disgrace

By Melanie Nathan, August 27, 2014.

Global Rights, Partners for Justice is doing work for LGBT Human Rights in Africa, bringing into focus the plight of gay people in Cameroon: “In Africa, homosexuality is illegal in 38 of the continent’s 54 countries and punishable by death in four. In Cameroon, people are prosecuted for consensual same-sex conduct more than in any country in the world, and in many cases, people are charged with “homosexuality” based on extremely scant and specious evidence. For example, a Cameroonian judge convicted two transgender people in 2011 of practicing homosexuality because they were spotted drinking a particular liqueur that the judge deemed “a woman’s drink.” (Global Rights, Partners for Justice)

Government Spokesman Cameroon discusses Anti-Homosexuality laws
Government Spokesman Cameroon discusses Anti-Homosexuality laws

The legal basis in Cameroon for prosecuting homosexuals is Article 347 of the Cameroonian Penal Code, which reads:

“Whoever has sexual relations with a person of the same sex shall be punished with imprisonment from six months to five years and a fine of between 20,000 and 200,000 francs,”

That is between $40 and $400. (The average Cameroonian earns $1,170 annually, according to 2012 data from the World Bank.)

In addition to major issues of discrimination inherent in Article 347, many rights violations occur in the enforcement of the law. The law itself requires proof that two people of the same gender engaged in sexual relations. Despite such proof being virtually impossible to obtain, LGBT persons are still arbitrarily arrested and held without charge for more than 48 hours, the maximum time allowed by law. As in the case of the liqueur-linked pair, many people are arrested as “homosexuals” simply by appearance.

IRIN’s new film, “Hate Unleashed” – Homophobia in Cameroon, follows lawyer Alice Nkom as she seeks to challenge the prosecutions, and provide some care and support to those who have been incarcerated. (see film below).

People OUTED in the Press
People OUTED in the Press

You will notice the mention of the cruel and invasive procedures adopted by Police when accusing men of homosexuality. This is a human rights disgrace for this country.

It also hears from a group of young men as they discuss the risks and challenges of being gay in Cameroon.

“Will I be found tomorrow lying at the end of a road [dead], or at home? I don’t know,” one says. “How do I bother anyone by being gay? I do not see how. I don’t prevent anyone from having children with his wife. I do not prevent him from going to Heaven, or to Hell, or Purgatory.”

Melanie Nathan:

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