African human rights leaders are uniting to denounce a ‘Gay Hate Day’ in Cameroon.
The Cameroonian Youth Rally have organized of a national anti-gay ‘celebration’ on 21 August, claiming homosexuality is a ‘crime against humanity’ and that they are acting to protect African values.
However, a declaration signed by some of the continent’s most high profile LGBT campaigners slams the event, saying it will put the lives of thousands of Cameroonians in ‘serious danger’.
The activists are also calling on the country’s President Paul Biya to take a stand against anti-gay persecution and decriminalize homosexuality.
‘These anti-gay proponents say they are protecting our “traditional values.” But we want to tell them that hate and homophobia are not African values,’ says Alice N’Kom, a Cameroonian attorney renowned for her support for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Cameroon.
‘We are bringing together people from across the continent to tell our country that pro-equality voices in Africa are strong.’
Just a few days ago, the influential Archbishop of Yaoundé has contributed to this homophobic backlash, calling homosexuality ‘shameful’ and ‘an affront to the family, enemy of women and creation.’
Yves Yomb, director of Alternatives-Cameroun, an organization working for the rights of sexual minorities, blasts the anti-gay movement in the country for ‘misinforming’ people.
‘A poster announcing the “Gay Hate Day” claims that hemorrhoids, incontinence and various infections are consequences of homosexuality,’ he said.
‘Decriminalizing homosexuality is a fundamental step in responding to the misinformation, hate, and violence.’
In August 2011, Roger Jean Claude Mbédé was arrested for the crime of ‘homosexual behavior.’
He was sentenced to three years in prison and fined after sending a text message to another man.
‘A homophobic crackdown by the police and government would be unacceptable anywhere, but this anti-gay rally being held as Roger is fighting for his freedom shows how extreme the situation is becoming Cameroon,’ says AllOut.org’s executive director Andre Banks.
The global gay rights group has been working with N’Kom and other Cameroonian activists for the past year to address the rampant levels of homophobia in the country.
‘This is the right moment for us to call on President Biya to stand up for equality, discharge Roger and revoke anti-gay laws in Cameroon,’ said N’Kom.