Cameroon professor sues tabloid for gay defamation

A prominent professor sues Cameroon's most poplar tabloid for defamation after alleging he obtained sexual favours and was involved in homosexual network within the state's government

Cameroon professor sues tabloid for gay defamation
06 October 2012

The editor and director of a Cameroonian tabloid which published articles in June, 2012 alleging ‘homosexual mafia’ within the highest echelons of the state, has appeared in court for a hearing in which he is accused of defamation.

In June, L’Anecdote, a tabloid owned by local media mogul Jean-Pierre Amougou Belinga published a series of articles accusing prominent individuals of being part of a gay network.

The alleged homosexual network was said to have been headed by the former secretary of state of Cameroon, and includes politicians, government ministers, university professors, prominent economists, public servants and other notable individuals.

The widely read tabloid alleged these men demanded sexual favours from other men in return for string-pulling.
The tabloid was sold out within hours and caused a moral panic against LGBT people in the country.

Anti-gay hate reactions were far and wide and including a speech by Cameroon’s Catholic cardinal, and an anti-gay hate day staged in country’s capital, Yaoundé in August.

One prominent professor former diplomat, Jean Emmanuel Pondi, was alleged by the paper to have helped his male university students in return for sexual favours.

Pondi, who is also the secretary general of Cameroon’s most prestigious university Yaoundé I, is now suing Belinga for ‘defamation’.

Appearing on Wednesday (3 October) at the correctional court of first instance of Ekounou, Yaoundé, Cameroon’s capital, he complained that the paper’s allegations amount to ‘insults, defamation, contempt and corporate blackmail.

‘They [the journalists of L’Anecdote] have no evidence because the evidence does not exist.

‘The entire diplomatic training that I had provided between 1994 and 2005 [as head of the International Relations Institute of Cameroon, where many of the state’s diplomats are trained] was defamed.’

The trial was adjourned to October 16 at the request of the Belinga’s lawyers.

L’Anecdote had previously instigated a moral panic and witch-hunt against gay people when it published in 2005 a list of 50 prominent ‘homosexuals of the republic’.

The list of the tabloid was similarly popular with vendors resorting to selling photocopies as the paper sold out.

Those named included government ministers, news readers, popular singers and sports stars.

Belinga was then convicted of defamation, fined and sentenced to four months in prison which he never completed.

His tabloid remains one the most popular papers in the country.

Many Cameroon commentators believe that Belinga, who is likened to a Cameroonian version of the media mogul Murdoch, to have wide political aspirations.

In the 2005 Belinga defended his actions by stating: ‘Men making love to other men … is filthy. It may be normal in the West, but in Africa and Cameroon in particular, it is unthinkable’.

There are no official association to help LGBT people in Cameroon, which has one of Africa’s most severe anti-gay laws.

Being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender carries huge risks in Cameroon; same-sex sexual acts are illegal under section 347 of the penal code with a penalty of five years imprisonment and a fine of 20,000 to 200,000 Cameroon Francs (about €300 $375). If the offender is under the age of 21 a more severe punishment is likely.

In 2010 four non-governmental organizations published a detailed report outlining the legal and social dangers that LGBT people face in Cameroon, including arrest, rape, loss of their children, social stigma and discrimination based on both sexuality and HIV status.

The report and the level of homophobic campaigns launched by the church and media indicate that Cameroon is one of the most hostile countries in Africa for LGBT people.



No thumbnail available

Jeb Bush sees no constitutional right to marriage equality

'It’s thousands of years of culture and history just being changed at warp speed. It’s hard to fathom why it is this way'
No thumbnail available

Gay love triangle on US soap Days of Our Lives takes unexpected twist

Character of Will Horton has sex with his husband's ex-boyfriend
The Glass Closet story and Lord Browne

The Glass Closet story and Lord Browne

How The Glass Closet came about and more about its author, Lord Browne
No thumbnail available

Delaware House of Reps approves gay marriage bill

Legislation now goes to State Senate for consideration
No thumbnail available

Meet the US military's first out trans soldier

Sgt. Shane Ortega said he wants to serve his country while being true to himself
No thumbnail available

Teachers say schools still full of gay hate

Greater Manchester classroom teachers highlight the homophobic abuse and discrimination experienced by their pupils and colleagues
No thumbnail available

Anti-gay protestors paint fake blood on charity offices in France

Les Hommen, famous for their shirtless homoerotic homophobic protests, have taken revenge on Act Up
No thumbnail available

Elton John worries anti-gay bullies will target son

Rocket Man singer worries fame and having two gay dads will have a negative impact on his son's childhood
No thumbnail available

Thugs break teen's ribs in suspected anti-gay attack

Police have released CCTV images of two men they are searching for in connection with the beating of a 19-year-old student in Plymouth, England
No thumbnail available

Transgender beauty queen finally wins acceptance from her father

Kevin Balot tells national morning TV show that her father now accepts her as transgender