Human rights activists are speaking out against a rally planned for Cameroon on Aug. 21, which the local organizers bill as a “World Day Against Homosexuality.”
The anti-homosexuality protest is proposed by the Movement of Young Cameroonians, or RJC, which announced its plans at a June 23 meeting in the Cameroonian capital of Yaoundé.
The RJC is the group that complained to police about a March 27 seminar on the rights of sexual minorities. In response to that complaint, some 20 police officers raided the meeting and brought it to a halt.
The group said it chose the date for the August rally in remembrance of Cameroonian student Narcisse Olivier Djomo Pokam, age 31, who they say was raped and murdered by homosexuals on Aug. 21, 2006. The RJC said its stance is in line with “the law of the Republic of Cameroon, the Holy Bible, the need to preserve the human species” and in defense against “serious harm” that it believes homosexuality causes for “humanity, our traditions, our African culture in general and Cameroon in particular.” The group alleged that homosexuals have a “propensity to turn into executioners” of people who oppose them.
In response, Jules Eloundou, the president of the human rights organization Humanity First Cameroon, says, “The actions of the RJC are purely and simply agitation. They are only seeking to get the attention of government officials and public opinion.”
RJC spokesman Sismondi Barlev Bidjocka says his group acts on biblical principles, but Eloundou suspects that different motives are involved.
“I doubt very much that this group’s spokesman is familiar with the Bible that he brandished as he described his fight against homosexuality,” Eloundou says.
Marc Lambert Lamba, another supporter of Humanity First Cameroon, adds that religion “promotes universal love, peace and the gathering of people and values — not hatred, barbarism and war.” Traditional African values have those same goals, he says.
Eloundou says that Bidjocka, “knows little about African cultures, the laws of the Republic and even less about homosexuality.” He predicts that the “international” event will not extend beyond the RJC.
Lamba argues that the planned Aug. 21 event would be in violation of human rights treaties and agreements, which under the Cameroonian Constitution take precedence over national laws. He says that that provision also negates the Cameroonian law that calls for a sentence of six months to five years for homosexual relations. Lamba’s position is not accepted by the courts, which frequently sentence Cameroon’s gay men and lesbians to prison.
Promotion of homophobia and hatred are the only goals of the RJC, based on a reading of its pamphlet promoting the Aug. 21 rally, Lamba says. That fills him with disgust and pity for the group, he says.
“Cameroonian youth have more important subjects than homosexuality which the RJC and its president could focus on,” says Eloundou. “There is, for example, the question of the mismatch between the labor market and academic or vocational training, as well as the large problems of development and citizen participation. Isn’t there much work to do in those areas?”
In addition, Eloundou adds, “As the president of the Republic, Paul Biya, has said, homosexuality with mutual consent is a private matter.”
— Eric O. LEMBEMBE
- LGBT meeting in Cameroon turns bloody as gay-bashers invade (76crimes.com)
- Cameroon man appeals 3-year sentence for homosexuality (76crimes.com)
- Alice Nkom défend l’homosexualité dans Recto Verso (Part 1 of video in French from Vox Africa, 21 minutes long)
- Alice Nkom défend l’homosexualité dans Recto Verso – P2 (Part 2 of video in French from Vox Africa, 33 minutes long, containing her debate with RJC spokesman Sismondi Barlev Bidjocka.)