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Cameroon men arrested for ‘looking feminine’

Jessica Geen August 19, 2011
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The lawyer for two men facing trial in Cameroon for homosexuality offences says they were arrested for looking feminine.

Alice Nkom, speaking to BBC News, said that her clients, aged 19 and 20, were accused of homosexuality because their hair was “dressed like women”.

Police claim that the pair were arrested for having oral sex in a car outside a nightclub in the Cameroonian capital, Yaoundé, on July 25th.

Ms Nkom said they had been beaten and forced into making false confessions, although she added that they will plead not guilty.

“This is a crime of fashion, not homosexuality,” she told the BBC’s Network Africa programme.

“I don’t know how the prosecutor will bring evidence that they are homosexuals.”

Amnesty International has called for the men to be released.

Erwin Van Der Borght, the charity’s Africa programme director, said: “By arresting people purely because of their alleged sexual orientation, the Cameroonian government is flagrantly violating international human rights treaties which it has signed or ratified.”

Cameroon law criminalises homosexuality. Although the relevant part of the penal code has been in force since 1972, human rights campaigners say it has been far more stringently enforced in recent years.

Related topics: Africa, Africa, amnesty international, Cameroon, gay rights in Africa

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