The Catholic Archbishop of Yaoundé stated last week that he believes homosexuality is opposed to the ideal of human reproduction and is a danger to the family unit, ‘an affront to the family, enemy of women and creation.’
He argued that the Catholic Church preaches the virtues of tolerance towards gay people, paedophiles, bestiality and other perversions, which he lumps together.
But he says: ‘This does not mean that Catholic morality endorse homosexual behaviour and the life style that it inspires.’
For him homosexuality is ‘shameful, a disrespectful criticism of God who has chosen to create man and woman’.
The cleric is no stranger to homophobic statements. In December 2005, he stated that homosexuality was a crime against the family and marriage. His statement generated a homophobic nationwide debate with several Cameroon papers alleging the existence of a homosexual ‘mafia’ outing by means of publishing a list of many prominent people, including government ministers, as evidence of this allegation.
Archbishop Tonyé Bakot’s anti-gay statement comes ahead of tomorrow ‘celebration’ of Cameroon’s national gay hate day, organised by The Rassemblement de la Jeunesse Camerounaise association (Cameroonian Youth Rally, or RJC).
The existence and combat of the alleged ‘gay mafia’ is one of the principal concerns of the RJC which proudly announces its homophobia publicly.
The association promises that 21 August, will be ‘celebrated’ yearly, stating it aims to glorify homophobia with a parade to take place through the Yaoundé.
During a recent televised debate, Sismondi Barlev Bidjocka, spokesperson for the RJC, stated that ‘homosexuality is a crime against humanity.’
There are no official association to help LGBT people in Cameroon, which has one of Africa’s most severe anti-gay laws.
Being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender carries huge risks in Cameroon; same-sex sexual acts are illegal under section 347 of the penal code with a penalty of five years imprisonment and a fine of 20,000 to 200,000 Cameroon Francs (about €300 $375). If the offender is under the age of 21 a more severe punishment is likely.
In 2010 four non-governmental organizations published a detailed report outlining the legal and social dangers that LGBT people face in Cameroon, including arrest, rape, loss of their children, social stigma and discrimination based on both sexuality and HIV status.
The report and the level of homophobic campaigns launched by the church and media indicate that Cameroon is one of the most hostile countries in Africa for LGBT people.
Recently an evangelical rector based in Cameroon called for his country to be more tolerant and defend LGBT rights.