Pope replaces Cameroon's anti-gay archbishop

Mgr. Victor Tonye Bakot, archbishop of Yaoundé
Mgr. Victor Tonye Bakot, former archbishop of Yaoundé

Vehemently anti-gay Archbishop Victor Tonye Bakot of Yaoundé, Cameroon, has resigned at a time when new Pope Francis is emphasizing the importance of accepting LGBT people in society.

The Vatican named Bishop Jean Mbarga of Ebolowa as his replacement, at least provisionally.

Public announcements and published discussions of Bakot’s resignation did not cite his anti-gay attacks  as a reason for his departure, although his frequent  campaigns against homosexuality were at odds with Pope Francis’s recent advocacy of toleration.

In a Jan. 28 interview, Bakot said,  “We do not want” homosexuality in Africa. “The West has its culture and Africans have ours. Since we must respect the parallels between the two cultures, and since we are in dialogue with each other, let us propose polygamy to the West just as they propose homosexuality to us. Otherwise, let each of us remain set in their own culture.”

In February, he joined with other Roman Catholic bishops in issuing a statement that “homosexuality opposes humanity and destroys it.”

In last year’s Christmas sermon, Bakot called same-sex marriage “a serious crime against humanity.”  He said, “We need to stand up to combat it with all our energy. I am particularly thankful to our local media that has been spreading this message of it as a criminality against mankind,” according to Reuters.

Gay Star News reported at the time:

His comments seem designed to bolster support for the anti-gay rethoric recently whipped up by the Cameroonian media, mostly notably the tabloid L’Anecdote, which earlier this year alleged a ‘homosexual mafia’ was running the state.

The cleric is no stranger to homophobic statements.

Earlier this year  [2012] he stated that homosexuality is a ‘danger to the family unit’ and ‘an affront to the family, enemy of women and creation’.

In December 2005, he made similar claims, that homosexuality was a crime against the family and marriage. His statement generated a homophobic nationwide debate with several Cameroon papers alleging the existence of a homosexual ‘mafia’ outing by means of publishing a list of many prominent people, including government ministers, as evidence of this allegation.

Today in Cameroon, Cameroon Voice called the resignation an “eviction with dignity.”  Reasons cited by that publication for Bakot’s departure included his reputation as a bad manager and the decision to take out mortgages against church property, which led to “a slew of suspicions about the morality of Archbishop Tonye Bakot.” Cameroon Voice also said that Bakot, 66, who previously served in coastal Douala and Edéa, was an outsider and is being replaced by someone born near Yaoundé in central Cameroon.

Jeune Afrique cited “financial and political scandals,” saying that the archdiocese in Yaoundé is 6 billion CFA francs in debt (US $12 million, 9 million euros).


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, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]


Leave a Reply
  1. I am extremely pleased to hear from 76Crimes that Bakot is finally gone. He was a central figure in developing the homophobia in Cameroon since at least 2005 that whipped up anti-gay sentiment among the population. His departure may well begin a healing process that must occur before normalization can take place.

  2. It might not have ended well with Mgr.Tonye Bakot as his resignation spells out.His rise to prominence all started with his consecretion as third successor of Mgr. Grafin.Far from the polemics raised by GAY PRIDE (as best described here in Italy and elsewhere in Europe and America),discerning catholics should ask themselves questions bordering on the personality and emergence of the prelate first as Bishop of Edea and on to Yaoundé as Arch-Bishop.The once Auxilliary Bishop of Douala must hold himself to blame for causing the premature exit of his former boss Monseigneur Simon Tonye R.I.P. (his former mentor).The decision to boot him off Yaoundé was no surprise to politicians of beti origin in Yaoundé. Here in Rome some prelates do not support the new stance in recognition of Gay Pride but sit tight on their thrones awaiting for the direction of the holy spirit.

  3. Just to greet the Archbishop, His Lordship Bishop Jean Mbarga, and let him know that we are doing well in Nigeria. it is the Congregation of the Compassionates of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that was founded by Sr. Gertrude Julienne Avouzoa.
    Just as you said we should keep in touched from time to time. my Lord we are doing well in Nigeria, at least we are growing gradually. My Lord we will like to have your contact if it pleases you.
    Yours sincerely,
    Sr. Jacinta Ugwuanyi (CSH)

Leave a Reply

Cameroon: LGBT activists in custody; harassment continues

76+ painted faces protest 76+ countries' anti-gay laws