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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid