Last edited: July 30, 2005

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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