Mass Gay Arrests in Cameroon
July 29, 2005
YAOUNDE—Fifteen gay men and two
lesbians are reportedly in jail awaiting trial after being arrested for being
in a gay bar in the capital of Yaounde.
All “homosexual activity” including congregating in
“places of ill repute” is illegal in the African nation.
Press reports in Yaounde indicate the men have been in
jail for a month. The women were arrested arrested several days earlier.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
says it is monitoring the situation. The Commissions says that the arrests are
part of a police crack-down on homosexuality.
“The 17 have been charged with sodomy and all or part
of the group remain in detention at Kondengui Central Prison,” the IGLHRC
said in a statement.
If they are convicted they face 6 months to 5 years
imprisonment. If one of the persons involved is under the age of 21 the
penalty is doubled, according to local press reports.
The IGLHRC said it was working with a coalition of human
rights activists in Africa and has petitioned the Cameroon government for the
immediate release of the detainees with regard to the sodomy charges.
IGLHRC holds that Cameroon’s sodomy legislation
contradicts international conventions signed by Cameroon that guarantee all
citizens freedom from discrimination, the right to privacy and the right to
freedom of association and assembly.
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