More from Cameroon, where gay men are routinely and randomly arrested and subjected to legal ordeals that continue for years. Since late July, a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old have been in police custody. Reports suggest the youths were arrested because they appeared "feminine". The two men received the maximum prison sentence of five years last week. A third man was sentenced in absentia after jumping bail.
Prominent human rights attorney and LGBT rights activist Alice Nkom "told the BBC that the men were jailed because they looked like women," reports the LA Times. "The prosecution accused them of having oral sex in a car, a claim the men denied."
Amnesty International is urging President Paul Biya to release the young men.
"People accused of such crimes in Cameroon often face abuse and violence from other detainees or prison officers in detention. The two men must be released immediately and the Cameroonian authorities must repeal the country’s discriminatory anti-homosexuality laws," said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International’s director for Africa.
In addition to the five-year prison sentence, the maximum sentence for homosexual acts in Cameroon, the men, only known as Francky, Jonas and Hilaire,, were each fined 200,000 CFA francs ($400). Their lawyer has appealed against the sentence.
Homosexuality is illegal in Cameroon and the country has recently seen a wave of anti-gay persecution. At least ten individuals in Yaounde and Douala have been arrested under the discriminatory anti-gay laws since March this year. One man, Jean-Claude Roger Mbede, was convicted and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment on 28 April 2011. At least six others, arrested in July and August 2011, remain in custody, while three men were arrested and then released.
Cameroon is one of at least 32 of Africa's 54 nations that currently have laws penalizing same-sex relations or even sexuality. Three nations—Mauritania, Nigeria and Sudan—boast the death penalty for gays or same-sex activity.
The beautiful central African nation boasts one of continent's more repressive anti-LGBT regimes. Recent months, have seen an increase in arrests and prosecutions under section 347a of its penal code, which criminalizes same-sex sexual acts. The government is preparing to toughen its already harsh penalties against homosexuality by equating them with pedophilia.
CAMEROON: 3 Gay Youths Sentenced to Five Years
CAMEROON: Alice Nkom Warns of Rise in Arrests
CAMEROON: 2 Teens, 2 Men Face Trial
2 Gay Youth Arrested for "Looking Feminine"
2 Gay Youth Face Trial for Homosexuality
Air France Refuses to Deport Gay Asylum Seeker
CAMEROON: 3 More Arrests for Homosexuality
Cameroon: Pro-LGBT Attorney Threatened w/ Arrest
Cameroon Sentences Journalist to 6 Months
Cameroon Sentences Three for Homosexuality
Gay Man Imprisoned for Two Years Without Trial
"Homosexuelle en Afrique"
Cameroon Gay Man Re-Arrested