The western African country of Cameroon has gained a well-deserved bad reputation as one of the world’s worst abusers of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
In response, 13 organizations fighting for human rights and against AIDS today sent an open letter to Cameroon President Paul Biya, urging him to suspend enforcement of the Cameroonian law against homosexuality and to release seven people who are in prison because of it.
The letter, signed by five groups based in Cameroon and eight with international scope, seeks “immediate, concrete action to remove Section 347a of the Criminal Procedure Code, which criminalizes sexual relations between people of the same sex.”
The groups’ appeal cites several international human rights treaties that Cameroon has signed which are violated by Section 347a.
The letter also lists 15 cases of prosecution of LGBT people either for violating Section 347a or for merely appearing homosexual. Police arrest people “whose only wrong is to look different — too feminine or too masculine — when in fact [Section 347a] only criminalized the act of sodomy,” the letter states. Several of those cases have been reported in this blog:
- Roger Mbede remains free for now in Cameroon
- Prison for texting ‘I love you’? Petition pleads, ‘No!’
- Cameroon men appeal 5-year sentence for gay sex
- In his cell in Cameroon, awaiting trial for homosexuality
The letter seeks a meeting with Biya to discuss ways to address the problem.
The following organizations signed the letter:
SUPPORT IN CAMEROON
- Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS (CAMFAIDS), which was the prime organizer of the effort.
- Pan Africa ILGA – PAI
- Spirit of 76 Worldwide project of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation
- Office the Unitarian Universalist Association at the United Nations
- Global Justice Institute
- Metropolitan Community Churches
- The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries
- Women’s Health and Equal Rights Initiative, Nigeria
Roger’s facing 3 years in Cameroonian prison for the “crime” of sending another man an SMS that said “I’m very much in love w/u.”
1. Write the words “I’m very much in love w/ u” on a sheet of paper. You can even customize with the name of someone you love!
2. Take a quick photo of yourself holding the sign.