How newspapers in Cameroon fan anti-gay flames

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Amnesty International’s candle-and-barbed-wire symbol. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Newspapers have played a significant role in fanning anti-gay feelings in Cameroon in the past and continue to do so, says Amnesty International.  These are excerpts from Amnesty’s newly released report on Cameroon.

In October 2012, L’Anecdote newspaper was again in court to answer charges of abuse, defamation, contempt of public bodies and blackmail  in connection with articles it had published in June 2012. In the articles, the newspaper had published names of public authorities it claimed had been involved in same-sex sexual relations. The case against the newspaper had been brought by a joint action of the public prosecutor and a senior university lecturer.

When the hearing before the Ekounou Court of First Instance started on 3 October, lawyers for the publication director of L’Anecdote requested an adjournment. The court adjourned the hearing and the case had not concluded by the end of December 2012.

The report also states:

The media, particularly newspapers, in Cameroon, have also been involved in fuelling prejudice and hatred against LGBTI individuals. For example, in January 2006, L’Anecdote and Nouvelle Afrique newspapers published lists of scores of people who they claimed were homosexuals. Several of the people whose names were published sued the newspapers for defamation.

In March 2006, courts in Yaoundé found the publication directors of Nouvelle Afrique and L’Anecdote guilty of defamation and sentenced them to six and four months’ imprisonment, respectively. It is important to note that the courts found the newspaper directors guilty of defamation because they could not prove that the plaintiffs had been involved in same-sex sexual relations and not of the violation of their privacy or publishing homophobic articles.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor/publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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