African human rights campaigners and leaders are uniting to denounce a ‘Gay Hate Day’ taking place today in Cameroon.
The AllOut movement – 74,354 members strong – has called on Cameroonian President Paul Biya to take a stand against this event and decriminalise homosexuality in the country, in which anti-LGBT sentiments are growing daily.
Earlier this week, the influential Archbishop of Yaoundé declared homosexuality “shameful” and “an affront to the family, [an] enemy of women and creation.”
As reported by AllOut, Alice N’Kom, a Cameroonian attorney renowned for her support of LGBT rights said: “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.
“We are bringing together people from across the continent to tell our country that pro-equality voices in Africa are strong.”
Yves Yomb, director of Alternatives-Cameroun, an organisation working for the rights of Cameroonian LGBT people said: “This anti-gay movement is misinforming Cameroonians. A poster announcing the ‘Gay Hate Day’ claims that hemorrhoids, incontinence and various infections are consequences of homosexuality.
“Decriminalising 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” and sentenced to three years in prison along with a fine.
This arrest was the result of his sending a text message to another man.
Me Mbédé said: “My family says I am dangerous and that they can’t live with a homosexual.”
Executive Director of AllOut, Andre Banks, said: “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.”
AllOut has been working with Ms N’Kom and other Cameroonian activists for the past year to address the avowed homophobia in the country.
Ms N’Kom said: “This is the right moment for us to call on President Biya to stand up for equality, [release] Roger Mbédé and revoke anti-gay laws in Cameroon.”
Ediage Valerie Ekwadde, 26, came to the UK last November and sought asylum, saying his life was at risk in Cameroon on account of his homosexuality. It was around the same time that three gay men were sentenced there for five years, a move condemned by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.