Pan Africa ILGA, a federation of 67 LGBTI organisations in Africa, expresses deep concern over the continued human rights violations in Cameroon, particularly towards the LGBT persons. The appeal of a Cameroonian man who was sentenced to three years imprisonment in 2011 after sending a text message, has been delayed for a further two months.
Roger Jean Claude Mbede was arrested in 2011 for sending another man a text message that said, "I’m very much in love w/u." He was charged and convicted of ‘homosexuality and attempted homosexuality’ on 9 March 2011, sentenced to three years in prison. He has spent more than a year in prison while being subjected to abuse in custody.
His appeal was scheduled to be heard Monday 17 September 2012. However, a new judge had been assigned to his case which delayed further action, and to allow the new judge to become acquainted with details of Mbédé’s case. Mbédé’s appeal has now been rescheduled for 19 November 2012.
Section 347a of the Cameroonian Penal Code states that ‘Whoever has sexual relations with a person of the same sex shall be punished with imprisonment from six months to five years and with a fine ranging from 20,000 Francs CFA to 200,000 Francs CFA’.
At least 20 Cameroonians have been arrested in the last year on suspicions of homosexuality. On August 21ST 2012 the Cameroonian Youth Rally organized a national anti-gay ‘celebration’, claiming homosexuality is a ‘crime against humanity’ and that they are acting to protect African values. Ahead of this anti-gay ‘celebration’, the Catholic Archbishop of Yaoundé stated 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.’
Amongst other measures and actions, AllOut (http://www.allout.org/Roger) launched a campaign which has attracted over 100,000 signatories asking the Cameroon President and Minister of Justice to reverse the decision to jail Roger Jean-Claude Mbédé for three years and decriminalize homosexuality.
The lack of gay rights in Africa is becoming an increasing cause for concern among human rights groups. Cameroon’s sodomy legislation contradicts international agreements that guarantee all citizens freedom from discrimination, the right to privacy, the right to freedom of association and assembly that the country is signatory to. These laws have been used to punish private sexual activity between consenting adults. Under these laws, law officials have also been known to harass and extort money from the LGBTI community.
In the wake of Mbede’s and other arrests Pan Africa ILGA urges the Cameroonian government to:
• End the persecution of persons based on sexual orientation and gender identity;
• Immediately repeal all laws that criminalise consensual same-sex relations;
• Release all individuals detained under this discriminatory law.
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