News / Africa

    UN Blasts Cameroon’s Anti-gay Laws

    Esther, 29, and Martine, 26 stand by a courthouse in Ambam, Cameroon where they were accused of homosexuality, March 15. 2012.Esther, 29, and Martine, 26 stand by a courthouse in Ambam, Cameroon where they were accused of homosexuality, March 15. 2012.
    x
    Esther, 29, and Martine, 26 stand by a courthouse in Ambam, Cameroon where they were accused of homosexuality, March 15. 2012.
    Esther, 29, and Martine, 26 stand by a courthouse in Ambam, Cameroon where they were accused of homosexuality, March 15. 2012.
    Lisa Schlein
    The United Nations Human Rights office is sharply criticizing Cameroon's anti-gay laws, which it says criminalize same-sex relationships.  The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights says it is deeply concerned by reports in Cameroon of harassment, intimidation, arrest and imprisonment of people on suspicion of being lesbian or gay.

    The U.N. human rights office says Cameroon's penal code, which criminalizes sexual relations with a person of the same sex, breaches the country's international human rights commitments.  It says this law, which calls for up to five years imprisonment and a fine for any person found in a same-sex relationship, also violates international human rights law.

    Like many nations in Africa, Cameroon is a conservative society, where homosexuality is frowned upon.  
     
    U.N. Human Rights spokesman Rupert Colville says the U.N. is seriously concerned that the anti-gay law is being applied to prosecute people simply on their appearance, their mannerisms, style of speech or general conduct.  
     
    "In 2011, for example, Roger Jean-Claude Mbede was convicted of suspected homosexual conduct after the authorities discovered he has sent a text message to another man that read 'I am very much in love with you,'" recalled Colville.  "Last month, Jonas Singa Kumi and Franky Djome were convicted on the basis of evidence of their appearance, which as perceived as effeminate, and the fact that they had been seen drinking Bailey's Irish Cream."    
     
    Colville says all three cases will have appeal hearings next week.  He acknowledges the U.N. human rights office hopes that by speaking out it will pressure the Cameroonian court to overturn what he calls these unjust sentences.
     
    Colville adds that the U.N. office is also receiving "very worrisome" reports of anonymous threats being received by human rights defenders working to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.  He notes one prominent Cameroonian lawyer has received multiple death threats to her life and the well-being of her family.  

    Colville says civil society organizations that have spoken out on behalf of LGBT people also have been threatened and intimidated.  According to Colville, the human rights office hopes to eventually, affect changes in Cameroon's laws.

    "So, obviously laws that target people because of their sexual orientation are discriminatory by any nature," Colville noted.  "So, that is why we strongly oppose them and we obviously try and convince governments that have such laws to change them.  And, of course, many governments have changed them.  Many governments have had these kinds of laws and have changed them over the years.  So, we hope Cameroon will do as well."
     
    There was no immediate comment from Cameroon's government to the comments from the human rights office.  The country is one of 38 African nations have laws penalizing same-sex relations.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Tania from: London
    December 12, 2012 11:56 PM
    It's funny how people say that it's not their culture, not their religion, etc. Spanish blamed people from Middle East for bringing homosexuality, Africa up to now have tribes which exercise a right for female to be with another female if her husband dies. People bring religious topic not reading Bible or Quran (before you ask I read both), but when read still don't understand what it says. Sodom and Gomorra is the "best" example, which shows how people know nothing about what it means and I am happy to discuss it but please first read. What is immoral is a hate, and tell me if I am wrong but I always believed that God is love and yet, I hear from some preachers that God hates gays. To Nero we can discuss the Human rights violation in the countries you mentioned, it seems like you forgot one of the worst Rwanda, Cambodia and Somalia. But to me it's your question which is very low. There about 5-10% of homosexuals in the world, which even 5% come to about 350 mln of the world population, it's more than population of Syria, Mali, Democratic Republic of Conco or Afghanistan but yet for you it's not enough. I have met, worked and made friends with Africans from Nigeria to South Africa, some of them had your set of mind, but majority had different. When people speak about apartheid they remember those who suffered, those who died, those who was silenced, well, to me homophobia, criminalisation because 2 people love each other it is the same apartheid.

    by: nero from: shanghai
    November 18, 2012 5:46 AM
    This issue does not even deserve space for discussion when the world is reeling under serious human rights challenges in DRC, Syria, Mali, Afghanistan, etc. How could the UN stoop so low to recognise homosexuality as a human right? Please leave Africa alone. We have a culture to protect for the sake of future generations.
    In Response

    by: emma n j nwosu from: Nigeria
    November 19, 2012 8:40 AM
    It is not even the matter of stooping low. the issue is that the Western world have been deceiving the rest of the world that they have the right definition of life. They think we should receive guidance for living from them And as long as they are concerned when we don't agree with them we are not doing right.
    He are people who say "NO!" to polygamy endorsing an abomination. Here are people who are forcing democracy down our throat telling us that even if the whole African continent don't believe in same-sex marriage that we should bow to it because a few people are so depraved to involve in it.
    It is part of God's end-time agenda to set Africa free. I see it coming.
    My prayer is that African and Asian countries will use this opportunity to break away from their strangle hold. Most economies in Europe are dyeing yet our leaders allow them to push us around. We in Africa refused to be as vile as you are. The gospel you brought us you have abandoned. We reject you and you NEW-WORLD message
    In Response

    by: Trev Adams from: Western Australia
    November 18, 2012 8:55 AM
    Excellent comment Nero. I commend you for your stand on this deeply troubling issue of the UN stating that homosexuality is ok. It is NOT ok in any form and I ask Almighty God to strengthen you as you speak out.

    by: Al from: Washington, DC
    November 17, 2012 9:05 PM
    No, Mr. UN! Did you say that criminalizing same sex marriage is in "breach of Cameroon Internationl commitment to human right?" Well, the reverse is the case here. It is the UN that has violated the rights and wishes of all almost 100% of the Cameroonian population to criminalize same sex marriage. We Africans will never allow outsiders to tell us how to live our lives. Gone are those days. If the UN has not gotten the message, the message is Africa stands united to criminalze same sex marriage. It is an abomination and an act of immorality.

    by: Anonymous
    November 17, 2012 5:02 PM
    Do not expect any commnet from the Cameroon government because that is immoral and we know it.

    by: Paul
    November 17, 2012 5:01 PM
    We Cameroonians will not and will never accept that immorable act/poison that the West is bringing to us. We must recognise cultures and stop pushing us to the wall. Gay marriage is not a human right and even if it is, it is not a civil right

    Why is the UN not deeply concern about Atrocities in Gaza???+
    In Response

    by: Al
    November 17, 2012 10:26 PM
    You are correct! gay marriage is not a human right, it is a deviation from normal human practice. Our cultures in African do not permit gay marriage.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora