Destination: Cameroon. Goal: LGBT health, justice

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Logo of the Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights
Logo of the Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights

A joint delegation of African and American activists is gearing up to plead for tolerance, justice and improved health care for lesbians, transgender people and other sexual minorities  during and after this week’s  women’s health conference in Cameroon.

Based on their experiences in Africa and internationally, the activists from Cameroon, Uganda and the United States have solutions to offer to problems of HIV infection and the denial of health services to sexual minorities.

Members of the delegation are traveling to Cameroon today on a shoestring budget, hoping for additional contributions that will allow the project to break even. Contributions are still being accepted through the Indiegogo website.

They are scheduling meetings with local LGBT rights and anti-AIDS advocates, religious leaders, diplomats and health-care providers in Yaounde and Douala, Cameroon. Those sessions will be held after the close of the Sixth Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights. They will also visit the Central Prison in Yaounde to meet with LGBT people who have been sentenced under Cameroon’s harsh anti-homosexuality law.

During the conference and afterwards,  these are some of the topics that  members of the delegation will discuss:

Maxensia Nakibuuka
Maxensia Nakibuuka

Maxensia Nakibuuka, an HIV-positive heterosexual woman from Uganda, will discuss her work creating a gay/straight alliance of home-based caregivers and a health clinic that welcomes LGBT people and sex workers. She was recently selected to lead the AIDS work of the Catholic Church in Kampala, Uganda.

Berthe Marcelle Awoh Ngoume, who founded the Cameroonian lesbian organization Lady’s Cooperation, will discuss the largely unmet health needs of African lesbians.

Albert Ogle
The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle

The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle, an Episcopal priest from Ireland and the United States, will tell how grassroots organizations working to improve women’s health have influenced larger organizations — the World Bank, the Catholic Church and World Vision.

American journalist Andy Kopsa, who is also a member of the delegation, said, “We will work to expand the vital network of African LGBT rights activists in Cameroon, which is facing new, deadly threats. Additionally, we will reach out to and stress the importance of working with the faith community and women’s rights community to ensure all persons are respected, safe and have access to healthcare.”

Kopsa will also discuss how to remove institutional barriers that prevent LGBT people from receiving AIDS-related services funded by PEPFAR and USAID.

She will also report on the trip through a new blog simply titled “Cameroon.” She describes the trip thus:

Andy Kopsa
Andy Kopsa

I [will meet] with a group of rights activists from the faith community, the government, women’s rights groups and members of the LGBT community.  We have scheduled time to attend conferences, meet with the Embassy, travel to prisons and high ranking members of the Catholic Church. …

You can come along.

I will be writing daily about my travels and experiences in Cameroon. …  Thanks for following me to Yaounde.

CLICK HERE TO FOLLOW CAMEROON BLOG

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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, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

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