Two transgender women were sentenced to five years in prison in Cameroon this week after they were found guilty of “attempted homosexuality” and public indecency, the latest example of an increasing crackdown on gay and transgender people in the West African nation, human rights groups say.
Shakiro, identified in police documents as Loïc Njeukam, and Patricia, referred to as Roland Mouthe, both identify as transgender and were arrested in February as they were having dinner at a restaurant in Douala, Cameroon’s economic capital.
Melanie Nathan, ED of African Human Rights Coalition condemns in the strongest terms the witch hunts, unlawful detentions, arrests, and prison terms in Cameroon. It is time to decriminalize people’s sexual orientation and gender identity in Cameroon and across Africa. The Penal Codes must be repealed – noting the extent to which they are actually abused through faulty application and through providing license for persecution by state and no state actors, alike . We call upon the American Transgender Community and all LGBTQI communities to bring pressure to the Biden and Harris administration, and to make their American representatives aware of the prison sentences.To jail a person for 5 years simply because they are living according to their innate and authentic gender identity and sexual orientation, is cruel and dangerous and one of the worst imaginable human rights infractions, especially because these women are unlikely to survive the five years. This, in effect, is a death sentence.
We must bring awareness to the Cameroonian leadership, and deliver a better understanding of what it means to be trans. It is not okay to merely admonish Cameroonian leadership, without having provided the educational awareness. Not enough has been done in the realm of correcting the harm done by Colonialists who delivered hateful penal codes criminalizing and punishing sexual orientation and gender identity. It is incumbent on all of us to work on behalf of Patricia and Shakiro, to get them released from this cruel injustice. With all this said, it is important to note that when we do advocate, protest etc. from foreign continents, we must do so with informed care, and always under the guidance of those on the ground in the countries concerned. Melanie Nathan: nathan@AfricanHRC.org
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