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Lesbian couple faces more than a year in prison — unless you help

Lesbian couple faces more than a year in prison — unless you help

Project Not Alone is raising funds to feed and free 13 LGBTQ prisoners.

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A lesbian couple in an illustration donated by Vincent Kyabayinze of  East Africa Visual Artists / EAVA Artists.

By Courtney Stans

Martha and Sally had been living together peacefully in the African nation of Cameroon for three years — until neighbors complained to police about loud sounds of  love-making coming from their home.

In response, police raided the dwelling and arrested the couple on charges of homosexuality.

Before they knew it, Martha and Sally had been put on trial, convicted, fined 198,000 CFA francs each (about US $333), and sentenced to a year in prison.. They have no money to pay the fines, which in Cameroon means they will have to spend an additional four months in prison — unless generous donors intervene.

They are locked up for nothing other than whom they love, which qualifies them for help from this site’s Project Not Alone. That help depends on donations from readers like you.  Your donation can help pay their fines to make sure the doors of the Bafoussam Prison open for them this year instead of next spring. If donations allow, we will also deliver hygiene supplies and supplementary food, which prisoners need to avoid falling ill in their dirty prison cells, surviving on one filthy, poorly cooked meal a day.

Your donation is needed. Taken together with others’ gifts:

  • $20 is enough to cut a prisoner’s sentence by one week.
  • $100 is enough to cut the sentence by 5 weeks.
  • $200 is enough to cut the sentence by 10 weeks.
  • $333 will pay the entire fine, eliminating the entire extra 16 weeks of imprisonment. (To be clear: Paying the fine in full is needed to set the prisoners free early, which is why many donations are needed.)
  • $8 will pay for a sack of onions for a delivery to prisoners.
  • $23 will pay for a large sack of peanuts to be shared by prisoners.
  • $18 will pay the prison admission fee for the two LGBTI activists delivering food to LGBTI prisoners
  • $36 will pay both the entrance fee and the LGBTI activists’ cost of transportation to and from the prison.

Life in prison is a challenge for the couple — Martha, 21, and Sally, 25. (For their safety, both are identified here with pseudonyms.)  Before their arrest, Martha worked as a seamstress and Sally was a nurse.

Their life in a housing development in the Bafoussam area of western Cameroon lasted peacefully for three years, but it was not untroubled. Neighbors made numerous complaints about them to police. At first, police took no action. Then, frustrated by hearing the moans of love-making, neighbors pleaded with a municipal official to intervene. Police opened an investigation and called Martha and Sally in for questioning.

When they refused to cooperate with that interrogation, police raided their home and arrested them.

See Also
Initiative for Equality and Non-Discrimination Executive Director Essy Adhiambo. (Courtesy photo)

Their one year’s confinement in Bafoussam Prison is scheduled to end in December if Martha and Sally can pay their fines. But, lacking any money to pay the fines, they will be held behind bars until next April to work off their debt — unless Project Not Alone can pay the fine for them.

Please donate to make that possible.

U.S. tax-deductible donations to Project Not Alone 2023 may be made via:

For a full account of this year’s Project Not Alone, see the article “Help us free 13 imprisoned LGBTQ victims of homophobia”.


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