More unfortunate news from coming from Cameroon, where gay men are routinely and randomly arrested and subjected to legal ordeals that continue for years. The government is preparing to toughen its already harsh penalties against homosexuality by equating them with pedophilia, activists tell the AFP and South Africa's News 24.
"The government is preparing a reform to the criminal code. In its draft law, it has both maintained and worsened punishment for homosexuality," lawyer Alice Nkom said. "It has widened its jurisdiction and created confusion between homosexuality and paedophilia, which will allow judges to condemn more people more easily."
In the draft law, homosexual acts in general remain punishable by between six months to five years imprisonment, activist Stephane Koche said.
Two new by-laws however punish homosexual acts on minors between 16 and 21 years of age to eight years in jail with 10-15 year terms available for acts committed on minors younger than 16. The new law thus equates acts committed on both age groups as paedophilia, Koche said.
The central African nation boasts one of Africa's more repressive anti-LGBT regimes. In recent months, there has been an increase in arrests and prosecutions under section 347a of its penal code, which criminalizes same-sex sexual acts.
Since late July, a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old have been in custody. New reports suggest the youths were arrested because they appeared feminine. The young men were beaten and tortured, charged under Section 347a and appeared in court last Friday. They were represented by noted attorney and human rights activist Alice Nkom.
Cameroonian LGBT activists also reported the March arrest of three men for homosexuality.
Attorney Alice Nkom, who successfully freed more than a dozen imprisoned gay men and founded the Association to Defend Homosexuals (ADEFHO), was threatened with arrest earlier this year. In 2007 she discovered an imprisoned gay man who was held for two years without trial. He was later released.
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