Cameroon leader claims progress, but leaves LGBTs in jail

Paul Biya, president of Cameroon (Photo courtesy of LesAfriques.com)

Paul Biya, president of Cameroon

Cameroon’s long-time leader, President Paul Biya, says people in his country are changing their minds about homosexuality.

But Biya has shown no signs of leadership on the issue and has done nothing to help the 19 people currently in prison or awaiting trial in Cameroon for their sexual orientation.

“We have recently had news that tribesmen convicted for homosexuality have been released. So there is a change of mind and there’s no reason to despair,” Biya said as he left a meeting with French President Francois Hollande in Paris on Jan. 30.

He may have been referring to the release of Jonas Singa Kumie and Franky Djome, who were released last month after winning an appeal of their five-year sentences. At their trial, the judge had said they were obviously homosexual because they drink Baileys, which he believed is a favorite of gay men. After their release, the two men were chased by an anti-gay mob and went into hiding for their protection.

At latest count, four people remained in prison in Cameroon on homosexuality charges, and 15 others are awaiting court action on homosexuality charges.

The most prominent of them is Roger Jean-Claude Mbede, who was sentenced to three years in prison for sending an amorous text message to a man.  He lost an appeal of his conviction and now places his hopes on a favorable ruling by the Supreme Court.

Despite that situation, Biya told reporters in Paris that “discussions are under way. People are talking, minds can change one way or another.”

“But currently it’s a crime,” he said, adding that homosexuality has been illegal in Cameroon since before he took office more than 30 years ago.

Biya has not responded to numerous appeals from the United Nations human rights office, European officials, and local and international human-rights advocates, urging Cameroon to change the law and release LGBT prisoners.

About Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart, a 40-year journalism veteran, is publisher and an editor of the "Erasing 76 Crimes" blog. More profile information on Google+. Colin Stewart, un vétéran du journalisme de 40 ans, est éditeur et rédacteur en chef du blog "Erasing 76 Crimes." Plus d'informations de profil sur Google+.
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3 Responses to Cameroon leader claims progress, but leaves LGBTs in jail

  1. Pingback: Cameroon: Stop turning blind eye to death threats | 76 CRIMES

  2. Pingback: Catholic lawyers push Cameroon to keep anti-gay law | 76 CRIMES

  3. Pingback: Cameroon: Two lesbians sentenced to nine months | 76 CRIMES

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