Cameroon ‘not ready’ to end LGBT persecution

Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo
Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo

Cameroon’s harsh treatment of LGBT people came in for criticism this week from 15 countries during the international human rights analysis known as the Universal Periodic Review.

At the UPR session yesterday in Switzerland, Foreign Minister Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo did not offer hope for any quick change in Cameroon’s law against homosexual activity or an end to police harassment of LGBT people.

Instead, as Talk Radio News Service reported:

Mbonjo defended his country’s treatment of homosexual individuals, saying, “this is a complex country that has come before you” after citing the country’s colonial past and present day diversity.

“Cameroon needs time for maturing to take place,” Mbonjo said. ”Please accept the idea that we are not ready to accept what other countries accept today.”

One human rights activist commented that Mbonjo’s remarks were “weak responses, but better than the outright homophobia as we’ve seen in the past.”

The number of countries calling on Cameroon to reform was more than double the number at the previous UPR in 2009, when seven countries called for change.

The primary focus of the criticism was Penal Code Section 347a of the Penal Code, which provides for prison sentences of up to five years for same-sex intercourse, along with fines of  up to $400

Press Conference after UPR Session Ambassador ...
U.S. Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Geneva, U.S.  Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahue cited the treatment of Jean-Claude Roger Mbede, who was arrested in 2011 and sentenced to three years in prison for sending an amorous text message to a man.

Donahue said Cameroon should, “Respect Article 12 of the [Cameroonian] constitution which protects privacy, and eliminate abuses of this article that lead to arbitrary arrests and prosecutions on charges related to consensual same-sex sexual relations,” Talk Radio News Service reported.

When Mbede’s appeal was denied during his temporary release for medical treatment, he went into hiding to avoid re-arrest, the TRNS article stated.

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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