|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
Cameroon continues to arrest and prosecute individuals under a law that criminalizes same-sex sexual activity. This law has consequences for LGBT people beyond their unacceptable arrests and imprisonment. It drives inequality within the justice system and promotes violence within families and communities. To combat these violations, in November IGLHRC launched the report, "Criminalizing Identities: Rights Abuses in Cameroon based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity."
The report was a collaborative effort with Human Rights Watch and the Cameroonian LGBT organizations Alternatives-Cameroun and l’Association pour la Défense des Droits des Homosexuels. Based on interviews with human rights defenders, survivors, and officials as well as visits to detention centers, “Criminalizing Identities” documents the prejudice, discrimination, and abuse suffered by LGBT people in Cameroon at the hands of police, politicians, the media, and their own communities. Included are accounts of arrests, abuse in detention, the difficulties faced by HIV-positive in accessing medico-legal services as well as the violence, ostracism and fear experienced when individuals are seen to violate strict gender norms.
The launch of "Criminalizing Identities" in Cameroon included meetings with government officials and advocacy at the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights. IGLHRC organized a highly-attended panel at the November session of the African Commission in the Gambia. The report recommends the decriminalization of homosexuality in Cameroon and calls on the government to provide effective legal protections for LGBT people.
IGLHRC first worked in Cameroon to help defend a group of individuals arrested in a cafe in Yaounde in 2005. Since that time, the LGBT movement in Cameroon has developed into one of the strongest in Africa. Prepared with this report IGLHRC is committed to ongoing support to LGBT Cameroonians in their opposition to discrimination and violence.