Gay activist tortured, killed in Cameroon
Human Rights Watch has accused the authorities of failing to do anything, sending a message gay people can be murdered without consequence
A Cameroon gay activist was tortured and killed, it was revealed today (16 July).
Eric Ohena Lembembe’s body was discovered by his friends at his home in the capital Yaounde on Monday evening after he had unreachable for two days.
According to the Human Rights Watch, the friends found his front door padlocked on the outside but could see Lembembe’s body lying on his bed through the window.
According to one friend, Lembembe’s neck and feet appeared to have been broken, and his face, hands, and feet had been burned with an iron.
The attack happened weeks after Lembembe issued a public warning about the threat posed by ‘anti-gay thugs’.
Despite the friends of Lembembe having approached the police, the authorities have yet to launch an investigation.
‘We don’t know who killed Eric Lembembe, or why he was killed, but one thing is clear: the Cameroonian authorities’ utter failure to stem homophobic violence sends the message that these attacks can be carried out with impunity,’ Neela Ghoshal, senior LGBT researcher at Human Rights Watch, said.
‘The police should not rest until the perpetrators of this horrific crime are brought to justice.
‘President Biya should break his silence on the wave of homophobic violence in Cameroon and publicly condemn this brutal attack.’
Ghoshal paid tribute to Lembembe, calling him an ‘inspiring activist’.
An author and legal expert, his organization documented arrests, violence and blackmail against LGBTI people in Cameroon.
‘Advocating for equal rights in Cameroon, where LGBTI people face severe discrimination and violence, takes tremendous courage. Eric’s activism paved the way for a society based on equality and nondiscrimination,’ Ghoshal said.
In Cameroon, homosexuality is punishable by prison terms of up to five years.
As the country prosecutes more people for being LGBT than anywhere, it is often described as the worst place in the world to be gay.