Gay rights protests at Cameroon embassies

December 11, 2007 10:03

Activists in France, South Africa and the United States descended on Cameroonian embassies today to express their anger at a pattern of arrests and harassment of gay men and lesbians in that country.

More than 30 people have been arrested in Cameroon in the last two years on charges of homosexuality, despite an October 2006 ruling by the United Nations that termed such arrests to be arbitrary and unfair.

On November 7th 2007 three men appeared before a Cameroonian high court facing charges of homosexuality after being detained for more than three months without bail.

The men were arrested in Bonapriso, Douala, on the night of August 31, 2007, by police officers making random arrests in search of armed robbers.

After being beaten at the police station, one of the men confessed to being homosexual and implicated his two colleagues.

"As soon as the shadow of homosexuality enters into a case due process goes out of the window," said IGLHRC Program Associate Joel Nana, who has been monitoring the cases.

In October 2006, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared that detention on the basis of sexual orientation in Cameroon constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of liberty contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The UN human rights body called on the government of Cameroon to adopt necessary measures to remedy the situation, including the possible repeal of Article 347.

The human rights groups Alternatives-Cameroun, Amnesty International, IGLHRC, Les Pantheres Rose, and OUT are calling for the repeal of Article 347, the release of all individuals detained under this law, and an end to official discrimination based on sexual orientation in Cameroon.