Archive for the 'Cameroon' Category

Free and Equal: A Global Public Education Campaign Combatting Homophobia and Transphobia

United Nations Free and EqualOn 16 July, human rights defender and journalist Eric Lembembe was brutally tortured and murdered in Cameroon. Cases like these are reported far too often throughout the world.

A 2011 report by the UN Human Rights Office found an alarming pattern of brutal violence and widespread discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in all regions. In 76 countries, adult same-sex relationships are criminalized, exposing lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals to the risk of arrest, imprisonment, torture, and even, in five countries, the death penalty.

While attitudes are shifting and many Governments are slowly making progress implementing reforms including anti-discrimination and hate crime laws, more work remains to be done, in all regions, to tackle hate-motivated violence and discrimination against LGBT people.

At a press event in Cape Town, South Africa, UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay, together with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and South African Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron, launched Free & Equal, an unprecedented global public education campaign to promote greater respect for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people everywhere.

Speaking at the launch, Pillay argued that eradicating discrimination of any kind required more than just changes in laws and policies; it took a change in people’s hearts and minds as well.

“Changing attitudes is never easy,” she said. “But it has happened on other issues and it is happening already in many parts of the world on this one. It begins with often difficult conversations. With this campaign, we want to help start and inform millions of conversations among people around the world and across the ideological spectrum.”

In addition to engaging fact sheets and articles, Free & Equal will generate a stream of creative content – including short videos, infographics and testimonies –all designed to dispel common misconceptions and negative stereotypes and encourage people to look at the lives of LGBT people through the eyes of LGBT people and their families. All campaign materials will be made available on the campaign’s website, UNFE.org.

UN Human Rights OfficePillay described Nelson Mandela as a great source of inspiration for the campaign and recalled his faith in education as the best weapon against prejudice. “He used to say that people are not born hating one another; they learn to hate,” Pillay said. “And that if people can learn to hate, they can be taught to love—that love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

The Free & Equal campaign was conceived and developed by the UN Human Rights Office and is implemented in partnership with the Purpose Foundation—a non-profit organization that develops global social-media driven campaigns on human rights issues.

Several global celebrities have already pledged their support for the campaign including musician Ricky Martin, South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Bollywood actress Celina Jaitly, Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho, and Brazilian singer Daniela Mercury.

You can learn more about Free & Equal and sign up to receive campaign materials and updates by visiting the campaign website at UNFE.org, or follow the campaign at facebook.com/free.equal or via Twitter @free_equal.

Processing the Murder of Eric Ohena Lembembe

Eric Ohena Lembembe

Photo: Erasing 76 Crimes

Repost from The Daily Beast

An outspoken voice for gay rights was tortured and killed in Cameroon. Neela Ghoshal on her colleague Eric Lembembe’s legacy—and how the movement lives on.

Eric Ohena Lembembe didn’t turn up to a meeting he had organized. Members of Camfaids—a group that defends the rights of LGBT people and those infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS—went to his house Monday evening after failing to reach him by phone all weekend. They found the door padlocked from the outside; through a window, they could see Lembembe’s body on the bed. When the police broke the door down, they found that Lembembe’s body bore signs of torture. His neck and his feet were broken, a friend told me. His face, hands, and feet had been burned with a clothes iron.

I had last seen Lembembe in March, on a sticky, humid evening in Yaoundé. We had released a joint report on human-rights abuses against people accused of homosexual conduct in Cameroon two days earlier. The head of the gendarmerie—Cameroon’s military police—had finally agreed to meet with us. We wanted to raise the many cases we had documented of arbitrary arrests, ill treatment, and torture of people alleged to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Continue Reading

Related Content: 

Prominent gay rights activist killed in Cameroon (AP)

Statement from the U.S. Department of State on the Murder of Cameroonian LGBT and AIDS Activist Eric Ohena Lembembe

Cameroon: Rights Abuses in ‘Homosexuality’ Prosecutions


Human Rights Watch has released a 55 page report titled “Guilty by Association: Human Rights Violations in the Enforcement of Cameroon’s Anti-Homosexuality Law,” which documents 10 case studies of arrests and prosecutions under article 347 bis of Cameroon’s penal code, which punishes “sexual relations between persons of the same sex” with up to five years in prison. The report finds that most cases are prosecuted with little or no evidence.

Visit Human Rights Watch to download the report as well as to read a summary of the report.

Ambassador Robert P. Jackson, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Cameroon released this statement to the Cameroonian press as a response to the report.

We commend Cameroon for its ongoing efforts to enhance socio-economic development and modernize its economy, as outlined in the Vision 2035 strategy.  We consider these goals to be fully achievable and well within Cameroon’s reach.  Just as achieving these goals will be a national accomplishment, undertaking them must be a national effort, involving the full participation of every Cameroonian.  It follows that in order for every citizen to make a meaningful contribution, he or she should enjoy the full measure of his or her fundamental freedoms, as guaranteed in the universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As we approach the International Day Against Homophobia (“IDAHO”), we would like to underscore that human rights pertain to all persons, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or other differences, including sexual preferences.  Under no circumstances in this day and age should hate crimes, violence, or discrimination be socially acceptable or legally permissible.  Imprisoning people on the basis of unproven accusations or text messages violates the freedoms guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  A pluralistic society can only thrive when each member acknowledges and respects the diversity within it. Incidents of torture and physical abuse, as documented by Human Rights Watch, are a sobering reminder of the work that remains to be done if we are to achieve, in practice, what we so often propose, in theory:  “On Est Ensemble.”

Reception Honoring the Department of State’s Public/Private Partnerships

Michel-Togue

Michel Togue, Cameroon

Today the U.S. State Department hosted a reception highlighting the the Department’s public/ priviate partnerships. Secretary Clinton spoke to a range of partnerships that the State Department has implemented with the goal of spurring more collaboration among government, civil society, the private sector, universities, religious institutions, and other groups. The creation in 2011 of the Global Equality Fund is one of those important partnerships. The fund was created, as noted on the State Department’s website, to support programs that “advance the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons around the world. The Fund is a collaborative effort at the State Department, bridging multiple offices with the objective of empowering LGBT persons to live freely and without discrimination.”

In today’s speech Secretary Clinton welcomed three new governmental partnerships to the fund and highlighted one example of the work the fund has supported. She noted, “We’re also expanding on some of our successful partnerships. In 2011, I launched the Global Equality Fund to promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons around the world. And I want to welcome the Governments of Norway, the Netherlands, and France to this partnership. And I thank the Arcus Foundation and MAC AIDS Fund for their recent contributions. Also with us is Michel Togue, a human rights lawyer from Cameroon who has fought tirelessly to defend LGBT persons with support from this fund, and we greatly applaud his commitment and his courage.”

You can learn more about the fund and its program areas here

You can watch the full video from today’s event here.

Cameroon ‘gay sex’ men acquitted

From BBC News

An appeal court in Cameroon has acquitted two men jailed in 2011 for homosexual acts, their lawyer has said.

Alice Nkom said she was pleased with the decision because the judge who convicted them was influenced by “stereotypes”.

He had stated “the way the men dressed… spoke and the fact that they drank Bailey’s Irish Cream proved they were gay”, Ms Nkom said.

Homosexual acts are illegal in the central African nation.

In November 2011, a court sentenced the two men to five years in prison after police arrested them for allegedly having oral sex in a car in the capital, Yaounde.

They denied the charge.

The Court of Appeals overturned their conviction on Monday, saying they were not guilty, Ms Nkom said.

International gay rights campaign group All Out said it welcomed the ruling.

“This case demonstrates that when courts rely on law and fairness instead of bias and stereotypes, justice is possible,” said Andre Banks, the group’s executive director.

“And while we celebrate…. we renew the call for President Paul Biya to release all other prisoners who have been prosecuted for allegedly being gay or lesbian under Cameroon’s unfair anti-gay law.”

Last month, the Court of Appeals upheld the sentencing to five years in prison of another Cameroonian, Roger Jean-Claude Mbede, under anti-gay legislation.

Related Article: Court Overturns 5-year Sentence for Gay-Sex in Cameroon

A Lone Activist Crusades for Change in Cameroon

Image: The Advocate

Re-Post from the The Advocate
By Andrew Harmon

Civil rights attorney Alice Nkom is in an isolated fight for the west central African nation’s vulnerable gay community.

Alice Nkom is accustomed to polarized public opinion about her civil rights work on behalf of Cameroon’s marginalized LGBT community. The defense attorney is highly praised by international human rights groups yet vociferously denounced by many in her own country. She ignores the latter with aplomb as she visits dilapidated prisons where her clients face bleak prospects.

Nkom is one of only a few lawyers in the west central African nation of 19 million people bold enough to represent those arrested and imprisoned on charges of same-sex sexual conduct, which can carry jail sentences of up to five years for both men and women. She describes their treatment in prison as inhuman, horrid, violent. “I must help them live,” Nkom, 66, says in a recent phone interview from the capital city of Yaoundé. “I must give them the strength to say, ‘Yes, I am this way.’ And I want to help people understand that being gay is OK.” Continue Reading

Calling on Cameroon government to end the persecution of gays and lesbians and repeal laws that criminalize consensual same-sex relations

Press Release from Amnesty International

The Cameroonian authorities must end the persecution of gays and lesbians and repeal laws that criminalize consensual same-sex relations, five human rights organizations said today in an open letter to the President of Cameroon, Paul Biya.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch joined the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), L’Association pour la Défense des Droits des Homosexuel(le)s (ADEFHO) and Alternatives Cameroun in urging the government to release all individuals detained under the discriminatory law.

“This use of criminal law to punish private sexual activity between consenting adults contravenes international human rights laws that Cameroon has signed and ratified,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International. “We are receiving an increasing number of reports that individuals are being targeted not only because of their sexual behaviour, which is the subject of these discriminatory laws, but because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. This use of criminal law to punish identities, as well as behaviours, is deeply concerning,” he added.

The organizations also ask that the government take steps to ensure the end of detentions, arrests and harassment of individuals on the grounds of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Continue reading ‘Calling on Cameroon government to end the persecution of gays and lesbians and repeal laws that criminalize consensual same-sex relations’


Stay Informed

Subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 170 other followers

Follow us on Twitter

Categories


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 170 other followers