Anti-Gay Violence in Cameroon Out Of Control
Anti-Gay Violence in Cameroon Out Of Control, Cameroon Refuses To End Anti-Gay Law
• Cameroon rejected a
request from the United Nations to end their anti-gay
• All Out launched a petition urging President Biya to investigate police abuse against gays and stop arresting gay people
• More than 40,000 people have spoken out so far
Paris, September 25, 2013 - Violence against lesbian, gay, bi, and trans (LGBT) people in Cameroon is some of the worst in the world. Activists are regularly harassed, threatened, beaten, and even tortured to death in their homes like Eric Lembembe, a prominent and outspoken LGBT advocate in Cameroon who was murdered in July 2013.
Since Eric’s murder, his close friends and fellow activists have come to the harsh realization that staying in Cameroon with their friends and family could cost their life. Being out, speaking out, or even secretly meeting with others in the LGBT community could put their lives at risk.
Last week, Cameroon’s UN Ambassador blamed Eric
for his own murder.
“Cameroon has yet to conduct a fair and honest investigation of the murder o
f Eric Lembembe,” Andre Banks Executive Director of All Out said. “Blaming Eric for his own murder is offensive. No one deserves to die because of who they are or who they love.”
That’s why Dominique, a friend and fellow LGBT advocate fled Cameroon this year. All Out asked Dominique to share his feelings about how life for LGBT people has deteriorated in his home country, just days after Cameroon ignored most of the United Nation’s recommendations to Cameroon to improve human rights. On Friday, Cameroon responded to a list of violations from the Human Rights Commission which highlighted the unchecked violence against LGBT people. While they rejected most of the violations, they did agree to investigate abuses by police.
All Out launched a campaign on Tuesday to urge President Biya to follow through on Cameroon’s commitment to investigate police abuses and pushed Cameroon to go further. More than 40,000 people have signed the petition so far.
“Cameroon needs to do more to stop the violence against lesbian, gay, bi and trans people,” Andre Banks said. “It is time for Cameroon to free those in jail for being gay and to end the law that makes it a crime to be gay.”
Below is a translation of an interview All Out conducted with Dominique:
Dominique, thank you for speaking with us. You are a leader of CAMFAIDS, a gay rights association in Cameroon. What happened to you ?
Answer: I do not know how things can get worse in Cameroon. I left my country almost 10 months ago, leaving my friends, my little brother who depended on me. I left my colleagues at the organization Eric Lembembe and I created. Eric planned to evacuate too because he was receiving similar threats to the ones I received. Now I have to apply for asylum every 3 months while in France and I'm still waiting for my meeting with the Refugee office.
You worked closely with Eric, can you tell us what his assassination meant for the LGBT community in Cameroon?
Answer: Eric’s brutal assassination showed that the death threats were real -- that gays are not only hated, but can also be murdered. In Uganda, human rights activist David Kato was killed on the spot, but Eric was tortured. Why? I believe it was because the attacker wanted information about Cameroonian associations, and about members of CAMFAIDS (the organization Eric managed). No money was taken from Eric. We found money in his home, but computers were stolen, the few documents about CAMFAIDS were missing, as well as all the information from other associations that Eric had in his possession.
Why is it important for the government of Cameroon to take measures to stop violence against LGBT people?
Answer: Cameroonian LGBT people are citizens like heterosexuals, and the Cameroon government must protect all citizens of Cameroon regardless of their sexual orientation. As the President of the Republic himself said when the infamous lists were published by newspapers disclosing the names of gay people in the country. Today being gay in Cameroon is like being black in South Africa during apartheid. Will they be hunted and destroyed like a Jewish person during the Shoah?
You left your country because it was too dangerous to stay in Cameroon, why did you make that choice? How did you feel letting your friends and family behind ?
Answer: If I had only been threatened by my
family, I would not have left my country. But I was
threatened by authorities because of the actions of CAMFAIDS
and by strangers calling me on the phone telling me they
will get me sooner or later. Eric and I took these threats
seriously. I received a subpoena from a judge accusing me of
the promotion of homosexuality. I immediately approached
Maître Alice Nkom, an attorney who works with those accused
of crimes for being gay. She was my ultimate protection. I
now live far away from my little brother, my friends, my
colleagues at CAMFAIDS, and members of other groups with
whom I have worked for over 8 years! But I can not go back
to a country where without protection a violent death awaits
I fear for my life.
To see the live signature totals from All Out’s petition visit: https://www.allout.org/en/actions/cameroon-attacks
In 76 countries it is a crime to be gay; in 10 it can cost you your life. All Out is mobilizing millions of people and their social networks to build a powerful global movement for love and equality. Our mission is to build a world where no person will have to sacrifice their family or freedom, safety or dignity, because of who they are or who they love.