Oct 092012
Paul Biya, president of Cameroon

The western African country of Cameroon has gained a well-deserved bad reputation as one of the world’s worst abusers of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

In response, 13 organizations fighting for human rights and against AIDS today sent an open letter to Cameroon President Paul Biya, urging him to suspend enforcement of the Cameroonian law against homosexuality and to release seven people who are in prison because of it.

The letter, signed by five groups based in Cameroon and eight with international scope, seeks “immediate, concrete action to remove Section 347a of the Criminal Procedure Code, which criminalizes sexual relations between people of the same sex.”

The groups’ appeal cites several international human rights treaties that Cameroon has signed which are violated by Section 347a.

The letter also lists 15 cases of prosecution of LGBT people either for violating Section 347a or for merely appearing homosexual. Police arrest people “whose only wrong is to look different — too feminine or too masculine — when in fact [Section 347a] only criminalized the act of sodomy,” the letter states. Several of those cases have been reported in this blog:

The letter seeks a meeting with Biya to discuss ways to address the problem.

Copies of the letter in PDF format can be downloaded in French and (without the lists of treaties and of prosecutions) in English.

Colin Stewart