Cameroon: Blog readers again help feed 3 gay inmates

The three ill-fed victims of Cameroon’s anti-gay law at Yaoundé’s central prison will soon receive another delivery of much-needed food thanks to generous readers of this blog.

Three sketches represent the three gay prisoners at Yaoundé's central prison. Cameras are not allowed in the prison.
Three sketches represent the three gay prisoners at Yaoundé’s central prison. Cameras are not allowed in the prison.

The three young men are serving sentences for no crime other than being homosexual.

Two of them, Olivier and Albert, are nearing the end of four-year prison sentences. They are partners, ages 26 and 24, who both trained for careers in the restaurant business, had saved up money and opened a small eating establishment in Yaoundé.


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But in 2014 a homophobic neighbor reported them to police. They were arrested, tried and convicted of violating Article 347-bis of Cameroon’s penal code, under which same-sex intimacy is punishable by a prison sentence of six months to five years.

Eric, a 24-year-old singer and dancer, has been serving an eight-month sentence, also for violating Article 347-bis. He was charged with homosexuality by police who arrested him in January outside a cabaret where he was performing. They found lubricating gel in his possession and photos of naked men on this phone.

Like Olivier and Albert, he is scheduled to be released in late September.

Prisoners get only one meal a day, so they need the supplementary nutrition that support for this blog’s Not Alone / Pas Seul project make possible.

The donations have come from Mexico, the United States, France and Luxembourg.

Readers were also invited to send the prisoners some words of encouragement in addition to the food.  Reader/donor Kenneth Fyrsterling has already sent a long message of encouragement to the prisoners, which this blog published in French and in English.

The budget for the August-September delivery is 100,000 CFA francs (about US $175). Of that, 20,000 was donated in cash in Cameroon. The remaining 80,000 is in the process of being transferred from the foundation’s account in the United States to activist journalist Steeves Winner in Cameroon.

Food prepared for delivery on Aug. 7 to gay prisoners at Yaoundé Central Prison in Cameroon. (Photo courtesy of Steeves WInner)
Food at Camfaids headquarters before the previous delivery on Aug. 7 to gay prisoners at Yaoundé Central Prison in Cameroon. (Photo courtesy of Steeves Winner)

The money will be used to purchase a month’s worth of  rice, tapioca, sugar, bouillon cubes, tomatoes , onions, pasta, cooking oil, etc., and for the expenses of making sure that it is delivered to the prisoners as planned.

The food will be delivered to the prisoners by the LGBTI advocacy group Humanity First Cameroon, this month’s partner organization in the project. The previous month’s delivery was made by the LGBTI advocacy group Camfaids (the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS). Cooperating with sometimes-squabbling local advocacy organizations is part of the goal of the project.

The food purchase and verification of the delivery will be overseen by Winner and by Jason Mballa of Adepev (the Cameroonian group  Action for the Development and Fulfillment of Vulnerable People). Mballa is a member of the project’s local advisory committee for the Pas Seul / Not Along project.

For more information about each of the three prisoners, read these articles in the blog:

For more information about the Pas Seul / Not Alone project, read:

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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