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