Goal after prison for homosexuality: Reopen a restaurant

Albert, age 24, hopes to become a restaurant owner once again after he completes his four-year sentence for homosexuality at Yaoundé’s Central Prison.

This is the third of three articles about the three prisoners in Yaoundé, Cameroon, who are serving prison sentences for homosexuality. Under Article 347bis of Cameroon’s penal code, same-sex intimacy is punishable by a prison sentence of six months to five years.

By Steeves Winner

Image symbolique d'Albert, prisonnier gay à la prison centrale de Yaoundé, Cameroun. Les photos ne sont pas autorisées dans la prison.
Albert is one of the three victims of Cameroon’s anti-gay law who are imprisoned at Yaoundé’s central prison. This is a symbolic image, because photos are not allowed in the prison.

Curious, intelligent and strong, Albert is a young man who is passionate about food. The youngest in a family of five, he stopped his academic education at age 16 so he could  enter a restaurant training course because of his love for cooking.

Albert has a strong temperament, a medium build and a chocolate complexion. He is ambitious despite his current situation as a prison inmate.

In the past, he has not allowed troubles to defeat him.

After he realized his sexual orientation and made it known to others, he was rejected by his family. A fervent Christian, he began attending events at LGBTI support groups in Yaoundé such as Affirmative Action and Humanity First Cameroon. There he met Olivier and they soon became a couple.

Both had trained for jobs at restaurants, and Albert was already working at one. They decided to open a small restaurant of their own with funds they had saved, plus financial support from friends who were better off.

All went well until the two young men were arrested, charged, convicted and imprisoned for homosexuality.

Now, a few months before the end of their prison sentence, Albert is looking to the future:

“I intend to rebuild my life, to start from scratch again. Cooking remains my passion so I would like to open a restaurant again.

“I’m still wondering what life will be like after prison. I will need housing, because I don’t have the courage to go home.”

Steeves Winner, the author of this article, is an activist for LGBTI rights in Cameroon who writes under a pseudonym. Contact him at steeves.w@yahoo.com.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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