More disturbing news from the central African nation of Cameroon, where gay men are routinely and randomly arrested and subjected to legal ordeals that continue for years. International human rights activists are calling for the immediate release of two young men who were scheduled to stand trial this week on charges of homosexuality
The two young men have been identified only as Jonas, 19, and Francky, 20. Both were arrested July 25 outside a nightclub the capital city of Yaounde. They have been charged under the country's draconian penal code, reports The Guardian.
They were charged under section 347a of the Cameroonian penal code, which criminalises same-sex sexual acts. They are now being held at Yaounde's Kondengui central prison. If convicted, they face up to five years behind bars.
Homophobia is widespread in Cameroon, with gay men frequently subjected to legal prosecution. In March this year, Jean-Claude Roger Mbede was jailed for three years for homosexuality after apparently falling victim to entrapment by the security forces.
Amnesty reported that Mbede was serving his sentence at Kondengui central prison, known for its overcrowding, poor sanitation and inadequate food supplies. He is said to be in poor physical and mental health and to have been denied medical treatment. He told visitors he had been sleeping on the ground since his imprisonment in March. He is appealing against his conviction and sentence.
The plight of LGBTs in the Cameroon received international attention earlier this month from London. For the third time this summer, an Air France pilot refused to deport a gay man from London to Cameroon. Forty-three-year-old Joseph Kaute applied for asylum in the UK last November. The application was rejected in February. Authorities have attempted to deport Kaute from the UK, but activists have successfully pressured Air France and its pilots,
Arrests and prosecutions under Section 347a have increased in recent months. Cameroonian LGBT activists reported the March arrest of three men for homosexuality.
Noted human rights lawyer 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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