By Colin Stewart and Laurent Balla
Human rights activists in Douala and Yaoundé, Cameroon, gathered last month to seek justice for LGBT people and to mourn friends who have died because of Cameroonian society’s anti-gay attitudes.
The event was the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, which commemorates May 17, 1990, the day when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.
In Yaoundé, the political capital of Cameroon, the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS (Camfaids) organized discussions about coping with the anti-gay environment and avoiding HIV infection, as well as a gay-straight football (soccer) game.
During the Yaoundé gatherings, Camfaids reported:
- 60 people were informed about LGBTI rights and sexually transmitted infections.
- 20 people received counseling and support.
- 40 people watched a film about homophobia.
- 27 people — both gay and straight — participated in a football match.
- 85 people had a meal together.
- 35 people took part in a discussion about homophobia and anti-gay violence in Cameroonian society.
As part of that discussion about homophobia in Cameroon, LGBTI people spoke about:
- Proper conduct of LGBTI people in society
- Respect for oneself
- The need for tolerance, harmony and acceptance among LGBTI people.
- Empowering LGBTI people by highlighting their talents.
- How to gain strength as a community by using individuals’ diverse talents.
In Douala, Cameroon’s economic capital, IDAHOT activities began with a day of remembrance on Thursday, May 15, focusing on three people who died because of homophobia:
- Alim Mongoche, who died in 2006 a few days after his release from Kondengui Central Prison, where he was raped and contracted AIDS after being imprisoned there with 10 colleagues;
- Journalist/activist Eric Ohena Lembembe, who was murdered at home in Yaoundé; and
- Roger Mbede, who was sentenced to three years in prison for sending an amorous text message to a man, fell ill in prison, was released for medical treatment, and died without a doctor’s care in the custody of his homophobic family.
Events on Friday, May 16, included a showing of the American film “Bobby, seul contre tous” (Prayers for Bobby), which tells the story of a gay man who commits suicide because of his mother’s religious intolerance.
On Saturday, May 17, lawyer Alice Nkom presented a conference about homophobia and freedoms, followed by a cocktail party and dance music. The conference was attended by activists from many local organizations.
- IDAHOT 2012: LGBT meeting in Cameroon turns bloody as gay-bashers invade (76crimes.com)
- IDAHOT 2013: Peaceful celebration in Cameroon a year after mob attack (76crimes.com)
- IDAHOT 2014: May 17 to boost free expression, even in 6 anti-gay nations (76crimes.com)
- IDAHOT 2014: Ivory Coast LGBT celebrate IDAHO at post-attack HQ (76crimes.com)