Organizations fighting homophobia issued a grim tally of this year’s repression in Cameroon, even as the world marks International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10:
16 arrests on the basis of people’s sexual orientation/gender identity, including five young women and 11 young men. The arrests occurred throughout the country: in Douala (two women), Limbe (one man), Edea (one man), Nanga Eboko (one man) and Yaoundé (eight men and three women).
- Violence, scams and extortion of LGBT people.
- Destruction of offices where people work for equal rights.
- The murder of journalist/gay rights activist Eric Lembembe in July.
The groups Camfaids, AIDS Acodev, Acodevo Ocean and CAMEF (all described below) stated:
It is devastating to see that more than six decades after the adoption of the UDHR [the Universal Declaration of Human Rights], homosexuals and sex workers continue to be victims of discrimination, violence, arbitrary arrest and conviction for their work and their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. All this, despite the recommendations given [to Cameroon] in the Universal Periodic Reviews of Human Rights in Cameroon in Geneva, Switzerland, and [during the meeting of] the African Commission on Human Rights and Peoples in Banjul, Gambia.
The organizations urged the government of Cameroon to:
- Meet its obligations under treaties it has signed, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to protect homosexuals from discrimination and violence.
- Investigate and diligently pursue the perpetrators of the brutal murder of Mr. Eric Ohena Lembembe.
- Guarantee equality and non-discrimination for everyone, including gay people, by taking action against people who foster hatred through harassment and violations of human rights.
They urged the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to join other national, international and regional human rights organizations in unequivocally condemning violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
They praised several people and organizations for working for human rights in Cameroon despite hostile conditions:
- The Ministry of Public Health.
- The National AIDS Commission
Lawyers who defend LGBT clients.
- Associations that support human rights.
They particularly remembered slain activist/journalist Lembembe, whose work was published in four newspapers in Cameroon, by ILGA (the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association) and by this blog (42 articles, including 24 in English and 18 in French, six of which were also published in the book “From Wrongs to Gay Rights.”
The communiqué concluded: “We do not forget the daily threats faced by lawyers and gay rights activists whose lives are at risk every day. We pledge to keep your memories alive by continuing to work for a better world, a world where truly “All people are born free and equal in dignity and in rights.”
These organizations signed the communiqué:
CAMFAIDS (Cameroonian Foundation For AIDS). An association created in May 2010 by Cameroonian students and workers concerned and wanting to curb the rapid spread of HIV among the MSM community in the city of Yaoundé and its surroundings. The creation of the association occurred due to findings of the continuing spread of HIV among the population, especially those who live in the university area (city of Soa) and are members of a very sexually active community. camfaids @ gmail.com
AIDS ACODEV. A non-profit organization that provides support and guidance to idle and vulnerable populations, including workers, sex workers and transgender persons, recognized since 2009 by the prefecture of Wouri.
ACODEVO OCEAN. An association created in 2012 by gays and sex workers in the city of Kribi with the primary objective of promoting human rights. It works to decrease the risk of infection by HIV / AIDS and for better health for all in the forthcoming future.
CAMEF (Cameroon Association for Empowerment Outreach Programs). A registered non-governmental organisation for the defense of human rights. The agency advocates for socially disadvantaged community groups, without distinction for religion, race or sexual orientation (LGBT community and sex workers). The organization was established in 2010 to provide information and HIV/AIDS prevention services to those without access to it. camef.cameroon @ gmail.com
- Cameroon appeal: Repeal laws that boost AIDS (76crimes.com)
- LGBT activists mark World Human Rights Day (pinknews.co.uk)
- Behind the scenes of the Erasing 76 Crimes blog (76crimes.com)
- UN Marks 20th Anniversary of Human Rights Declaration (voanews.com)
- Honors for LGBT defender Alice Nkom of Cameroon (76crimes.com)