|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
The Cameroonian government is preparing to reform its criminal code and may toughen laws criminalising homosexuality according to Alice Nkom, head of the Association pour la Défense de l'Homosexualité (ADEFHO). The age of consent for heterosexual couples in Cameroon is 16. The proposed laws would punish homosexual couples between the ages of 16 and 21 with eight years in prison for pedophilia.
Cameroon is preparing to toughen laws against homosexuality, already a crime in the country, by equating gay acts with paedophilia, two gay rights activists told AFP on Friday.
"The government is preparing a reform to the criminal code. In its draft law, it has both maintained and worsened punishment for homosexuality," Alice Nkom, lawyer and president of the Cameroonian Association for the Defence of Homosexuality, said.
"It has widened its jurisdiction and created confusion between homosexuality and paedophilia, which will allow judges to condemn more people more easily," she said.
In the draft law, homosexual acts in general remain punishable by between six months to five years imprisonment, activist Stephane Koche said.
Two new by-laws however punish homosexual acts on minors between 16 and 21 years of age to eight years in jail with 10-15 year terms available for acts committed on minors younger than 16, Koche said.
The new law thus equates acts committed on both age groups as paedophilia, Koche said.
Three Cameroonian men were arrested last month after returning from a bar in Yaoundé. The two men detained for feminine appearance were tortured in police custody and charged under laws criminalising homosexuality. They were tried at the Court of First Instance in Ekounou, Yaoundé on 18 August.