Next month two young gay men in Cameroon planned to resume training for a human resources career, but they can’t. The reason: Their parents found out they are gay.
By Steeves Winner
Jacques and Cyril (pseudonyms) are good friends who live not far apart in Yaoundé, Cameroon, where each of them lives with his own family. They’ve both twentysomethings and both are gay, but they’re not a couple.
Each man was on good terms with his family until his parents discovered his sexual orientation.
Each has completed one year of a two-year vocational program in human resources at a vocational institute in Yaoundé.
Everything fell apart last Sunday, Aug. 25, while Jacques was visiting Cyril at home. They were talking frankly about their respective sexual partners when Cyril’s mother walked past and heard what they were talking about.
Suddenly she learned that her son sleeps with men rather than with women.
Right away she walked up to them and asked what was going on. Without suspecting what she had heard, they changed the subject of the conversation. But Cyril’s mom told them what she had heard about their homosexual relationships.
She is a friend of Jacques’ parents so she told the young men to come with her as she went right over to their home to tell them what she knew. Both sets of parents scolded their sons and beat them up.
Before the day was over, the parents of each man had decided to stop paying for his education.
“Since you chose the path of least resistance, now you’ll have to ask your sleeping partners to pay for your schooling,” they said.
Tuition costs 400,000 CFA francs (about U.S. $675) per person per year.
This is the year when the two friends were supposed to complete their two-year post-secondary vocational program and graduate with a BTS, a technical diploma.
The young men asked the Defenders Without Borders (DSF) human rights organization to intervene on their behalf. Attorney Stephane Awouma from DSF spoke to the families, but did not persuade the parents to relent.
The parents only agreed not to throw their children onto the street.
Steeves Winner adds:
We can hope that as time passes, the parents will change their minds or that Jacques and Cyril will find a way to pay their tuition by the time school resumes in mid-September.
Steeves Winner, the author of this article, is an activist for LGBTI rights in Cameroon who writes under a pseudonym. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was revised Sept. 3 to add the name of Stephane Awouma and to removed a few specific references that might endanger Jacques or Cyril.