Gay activists picketed Cameroon's diplomatic outposts in France, South Africa and the United States Dec. 10 to protest arrests and harassment of gays and lesbians in the African nation.
“More than 30 people have been arrested in Cameroon in the last two years on charges of homosexuality,” said the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, which helped organize the demonstrations. “Dozens of students, particularly girls and young women, have been expelled from schools as [a] result of their real or perceived sexual orientation.”
In Paris and Washington, D.C., the demonstrators delivered protest letters to diplomatic officials, while the action in Pretoria, South Africa, attracted more than 100 demonstrators to the Cameroon High Commission.
In May 2005, 17 men and women were arrested at an open-air bistro in Yaoundé, the Cameroonian capital. Eleven of them spent more than a year at the Kondegui Central Prison before seven of them were convicted of violating Penal Code Article 347, which bans gay sex. The gay group Alternatives-Cameroun has documented the cases of 16 other men detained under the article.
“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 is monitoring the cases.