Xtra
1 min

Cameroon’s homosexuality trial

Two young men, known as Jonas, 19, and Francky, 20, are very
unlucky. On July 25, they were making out in a car outside a nightclub in the
Cameroonian capital, Yaoundé, when they were arrested.

They were charged under Section 347a of the country’s penal
code, which criminalizes same-sex sexual acts, and are scheduled to stand trial
on Aug 18. If convicted, they could face up to five years in prison.

Amnesty
International
has stepped in to demand the release of the two young men and an end to the law.

Erwin
Van Der Borght, Amnesty International’s Africa Programme Director says,
“Cameroon should repeal this draconian law. By arresting people purely because
of their alleged sexual orientation, the Cameroonian government is flagrantly
violating international human rights treaties which it has signed or ratified.”

Bravo,
but I am not sure what good it will do.

In
November 2010, a 62-page report written by four human-rights organizations said
that Cameroonians are attacked by police, politicians, media and their own
communities if they are suspected of having same-sex relations.

It
details how the government uses Section 347a to deny basic rights to people
perceived to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. It describes a
“homophobic atmosphere that encourages shunning and abuse in the community,
arrests, beatings by the police and abuse in prison."

Jean-Claude
Roger Mbede is a living example of the abuse. In March 2011, he was
sentenced to 36 months imprisonment after sending SMS messages to a male
acquaintance.

Mbede is serving his sentence in Kondengui Central Prison,
known for its overcrowding, poor sanitation and inadequate food supplies.
Apparently he sleeps on the floor, is in poor physical and mental health and
has been denied medical treatment.

Mbede is appealing his conviction and sentence, but it may be futile under the current laws.

In the meantime, all we can do is wait to see what
sentences will be handed out to Jonas and Francky, who were doing much more than texting.

 

 

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