Africa

Gay man frequents Cameroon cybercafe; crowd attacks

Henry O. (Photo courtesy of CAMFAIDS, published with approval from Henry O. and CAMFAIDS)

Henry O. (Photo courtesy of Camfaids, published with approval from Henry O. and Camfaids)

A homophobic crowd attacked a Yaoundé resident in a cybercafe last month, the Cameroonian LGBTI activist organization CAMFAIDS reports.

After the attack, Emmanuelle Ndjock, the owner of the cybercafe, filed charges against Henry O. of Yaoundé and Elvis T., a visitor to Cameroon, accusing Henry of obscene behavior, seeking prosecution on homosexuality charges and demanding payment for damages her establishment suffered during the attack.

Camfaids described the incident as “incredible,” “infamous” and “ignominious.” It occurred Oct. 1 in the Tsinga neighborhood in Yaoundé, Cameroon’s capital.

According to a report by Camfaids:

Henry, a frequent customer of the cybercafe, had been warned by employees there not to speak aloud to a man online whom he called “my love” and “my heart.” The employees warned Henry that they would denounce him to police.

In Cameroonian law, same-sex intercourse is punishable by up to five years in prison and that law has often been used to target LGBTI Cameroonians simply because they are gay or lesbian, rather than for committing specific acts.

On Oct. 1, staff of the cybercafe complained that Henry acted obscenely there — which he denies. They stated that he pulled down his pants and masturbated in front of a camera that he had rented from the cybercafe.

A crowd seized Henry and tried to drag him away. To prevent himself from being hauled away, Henry grabbed onto the webcam and other electronic equipment, which fell and broke.

Police then intervened and saved Henry from the crowd.

Henry told police that he had not misbehaved and was attacked just because he is gay.

Elvis (Photo courtesy of CAMFAIDS, published with approval from Elvis and Camfaids)

Elvis T. (Photo courtesy of Camfaids, published with approval from Elvis T. and Camfaids)

Ndjock said he was behaving obscenely to please his boyfriend, Elvis, with whom shared an apartment in the Kondengui neighborhood.

Henry stated:

“I was pummeled, dragged outside, covered with blows by the crowd.  To survive, I had to agree to what they accused me of.”

Jean Jacques Dissoke, legal coordinator for Camfaids, commented that people seem never to be willing to allow homosexuals to find a place in Cameroonian society:

“Once again, society has attacked as if by reflex, without investigation and without morality.”

Camfaids said that the obscenity charge against Henry was absurd: “Why would an individual who had not lost his faculties engage in such an intimate act in front of everyone?”

The organization added, “Once again, we must decry Cameroonian society’s behavior, which is based on a belief that homosexuals have no right to life.”

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