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Police again arrest two Cameroonians acquitted for appearing gay

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — Two Cameroonians who were recently acquitted after being convicted for "homosexual behaviour" have been arrested again after they were reportedly attacked in a marketplace over the weekend, Gay Star News reports.

According to the blog 76crimes.com, which reports on countries with anti-gay laws on their books, police took Singa Kimie (also known as Jonas Singa Kumie) and Ndjome
Francky (also known as Franky Djome) into custody after Franky sought help at a police station. 

According to the blog, Jonas Singa Kumie was interviewed March 26 at a police station and told authorities that people were insulting the pair, calling them "queers, witches, women," while some merchants allegedly threatened to beat them and "began throwing stones and tomatoes" at them. During the incident, a woman was hit by a stone and began bleeding profusely, the blog stated, noting that Franky's mother paid for the woman's treatment.

The report says Jonas and Franky were dressed as they usually are, in women's clothing and wearing wigs, and had stopped at a salon to get manicures and pedicures when a crowd surrounded them and a fight broke out.

Jonas is quoted as saying that they defended themselves as best as they could, but their belongings were stolen, including identity cards and money. The blog says Jonas and Franky, who have been variously described as gay men and transgender, remain in custody and had yet to receive legal assistance as of March 26.

In July 2011, police arrested them outside a nightclub in the capital,
Yaoundé. They were subsequently sentenced to jail because of the
clothes they
were wearing (considered not masculine enough), their "feminine" speech
and for drinking Baileys, perceived as a gay man's drink.

The Court of Appeals acquitted them in January and ordered their
release, a ruling hailed by human rights advocates, who say the men were
subjected to abuse from prison guards and other prisoners while they
awaited the outcome of their appeal. They served more
than a year in prison before being released. 

Four human rights organizations have published a report titled “Guilty by Association: Human Rights Violations in the Enforcement of Cameroon’s Anti-Homosexuality Law," which says at least 28 people have been prosecuted for being gay in Cameroon since 2010. 

The 55-page report contains 10 case studies of arrests and prosecutions under article 347 of Cameroon’s penal code, which punishes “sexual relations between persons of the same sex” with up to five years in prison.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says that because the majority of “homosexuality” arrests are "not based on information from witnesses or other evidence, law enforcement officials rely heavily on confessions, often extracted through torture and ill-treatment." It cites the case of a 17-year-old arrested by Yaoundé gendarmes. The youth said the investigator beat him on the bottoms of his feet, "50 strokes with the back of a machete.” 

"Police in Cameroon claim that the law exists for the purpose of
punishing people who engage in same-sex conduct in public, but in all of
the cases known to the four organizations, there was not a single case
in which a suspect was caught having sex in public," HRW notes.

The report cites cases in which the law against homosexual
conduct was "used for settling scores" and says that dozens of Cameroonians end up in jail "solely because
they are suspected of being gay or lesbian," the rights groups found. 

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