News / Africa

Report Condemns Cameroon's Intolerance of Homosexuality

Local people standing in front of the tribunal in Ambam, during the trial of Esther, 29, and Martine, 26, accused of homosexuality, March 15, 2012.
Local people standing in front of the tribunal in Ambam, during the trial of Esther, 29, and Martine, 26, accused of homosexuality, March 15, 2012.
A new report from Amnesty International is accusing Cameroon’s government of fostering a climate of abuse and intolerance for the country's gay and lesbian citizens. In addition to arrest and prosecution, the report says Cameroonians accused of violating the country’s law prohibiting gay sex acts are routinely subjected to beatings and even torture. 

Improper use of Article 347

In 2011, 14 Cameroonians were brought to trial for violating a provision in the penal code outlawing homosexuality. Twelve of them were convicted.

But while Article 347 outlaws “sexual relations,” many suspects were arrested for what authorities deemed to be other types of gay behavior. One man sent a text message to another man saying, “I’m very much in love with you.” Two more were arrested partly because they were drinking Bailey’s Irish Cream.

Godfrey Byaruhanga, who researched the report for Amnesty International, says that while his advocacy group opposes the law altogether, such arrests were evidence that it was being applied incorrectly.  

“The law as it exists is not being properly and fairly applied. The Cameroonian law would require that they are found having same-sex sexual relations," explained Byaruhanga. "But in this case we know that most of the people who have been arrested, imprisoned or convicted of homosexuality have not been found engaging in same-sex sexual relations.”

Inhuman conditions in prison

Malnutrition is rampant in Cameroon’s prisons, where inmates receive just one meal a day. Guards also administer regular beatings. In addition, judicial officials have ordered that suspected gay men be subjected to forced anal examinations, which Amnesty says constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Byaruhanga says authorities have failed to investigate harassment and physical violence against gay men and lesbians. He notes also they have not responded to reports of anonymous threats made against human rights defenders and their families - including lawyers defending suspects tried under Article 347.

Responding to Amnesty’s allegations, Cameroonian officials defended Article 347 and its application, saying it reflects the views of a deeply religious society. Officials at the national human rights commission have argued that gay men and lesbians could and should change their sexual preference in order to comply with the law.

A foreign imposition?

Byaruhanga says there is a widespread belief among many Cameroonian officials and ordinary citizens that homosexuality is being imposed on the country by foreign forces.

"I think what was quite concerning was the argument by the authorities that homosexuality is a foreign imposition, that it is an activity or a behavior or a culture that is foreign to the Cameroonian culture, and as such is being imposed by foreigners on Cameroonians," he said. "That is an argument that we simply do not accept and that indeed the gay men and lesbian women in Cameroon do not accept. It is not being imposed from outside the country. This is the sexuality of the people of Cameroon by Cameroonians amongst Cameroonians.”

The U.S. State Department has previously spoken out about Cameroon’s anti-gay law as well as individual prosecutions of Cameroonians charged under the law.

Aaron Jensen, a spokesman for the department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, says the U.S. “opposes any legislation that criminalizes consensual same sex conduct or singles out people for their sexual orientation.”

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid