Amnesty International reports, “The Cameroon authorities routinely ignore violence and discrimination against LGBTI people and this must be addressed.”
The Cameroon court of appeals has declared two men who were jailed last year for “looking gay” are innocent of homosexuality. Jonas Kimie and Franky Ndome were arrested in 2012 for wearing women’s clothes. According to Amnesty International,
The acquittal … exposes the systematic discrimination against perceived homosexuals in the country.
The judge who passed down the original conviction of Kimie and Ndome was believed to have been influenced by “stereotypes” according to the men’s attorney Alice Nkom. She told Pink News on Monday that the judge had stated, “The way the men dressed … spoke and the fact that they drank Bailey’s Irish Cream proves they were gay.” Homosexuality is illegal in Cameroon and a conviction can carry a sentence of imprisonment ranging from 6 months to 5 years imprisonment.
Sadly, this is not the first example of discrimination against LGBTI people in the African country. A report set to be published by Amnesty International later this month outlines the “violence, arbitrary arrests and other human rights violations” that target individuals in Cameroon because of their real or perceived sexual orientation.
Unfortunately, the victims of this abuse rarely seek out protection from the police due to their direct involvement in the abuses. Although the appeals court ruling is a step in the right direction, the Cameroonian authorities have done very little to stem the increasing discrimination and violence aimed at the LGBTI community.
One can only hope that the attention brought by the acquittal of Mr. Kimie and Mr. Ndome will pressure the government toward greater acceptance of the LGBTI community.