Cry for help from gay man on the run in Cameroon

A gay man living on streets in Douala, Cameroon, sent a plea for help to attorney Walter Atoh, who is one of only three attorneys in Cameroon who accept LGBTI clients.

Barrister Walter Atoh (Barrister Atoh Walter M. Tchemi, as his name is written in Cameroon)
Barrister Walter Atoh

The message arrived after this blog’s March 2 publication of Atoh’s call for the repeal of Cameroon’s anti-LGBT law, Article 347 bis.

The homeless man was rejected by his family after his homosexuality became known. For his safety, his name is given here only as L.  He was arrested on homosexuality-related charges, was represented by Atoh, was released on bail and then disappeared rather than face the prospect of conviction.

In Cameroon, the penalty for homosexual activity is up to five years in prison.

L. wrote to Atoh seeking help:

“We are tired to be humiliated. I, for example, after my incident I have to run away. All my brothers have rejected me. Am out here sleeping on the street but to no avail.

“People are still avoiding me because am feminine. [I] am very angry with myself at times but nothing can change me. …

“The worst is that am suffering for something I never wish for its just happen the way it is.

“I don’t know where such a feeling came from. So please, sir, help us.”

Atoh, based in Kumba, says that his campaign for the repeal of Article 347 bis is his way of trying to help L. and other sexual minorities in Cameroon.

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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