Cameroon Sticks To Its Guns In Fight Against Homosexuality In Content, Practice

Apr 2, 2024

June 2024 will make it one year since the Cameroon government decided to extend its fight against same-sex relations and practices from merely persecuting those accused of engaging in such acts, to punishing media content producers and well as distributors who relay content that is judged by the government to promote LGBTQ+ activities in any way or form.

After years of cracking down on LGBTQ+ persons, prosecuting them, jailing and in some cases, giving the green light for communities to molest and torture persons engaged in such relations, the government of Cameroon, through the National Communication Council, NCC came out with an order, banning the relay or production of any media content that depicts such relationships and practices. The NCC’s order did not only end with local content producers, it also extended to distributors of media content especially visual content through cable networks as well as satellite. 

NCC warned promoters and media practitioners that homosexuality is outlawed and condemned by Cameroonian law and that any broadcast homosexual scenes constitute a breach of professional ethics and social communication. Media houses that continue to publish such content, NCC threatened, will face immediate sanctions.

Following NCC’s announcement, Cameroon’s Ministries of External Relations and Territorial Administration on 19 June 2023 rejected a conference on gender, sexual orientation and sexual identity, which French Ambassador for LGBTQ+ Rights Jean-Marc Berthon had planned to hold in the nation’s capital, Yaoundé.

“The position of the Cameroon government on the definition of gender, orientation, and sexual identity is clear and devoid of any debate,” said Lejeune Mbella Mbella, Cameroon’s external relations minister. “It is therefore not possible to talk about LGBTQ+ people in Cameroon. The fact is thus qualified as a common law crime by article 347-1- Homosexuality of Law No2016/007 0f July 2016 on the penal code of Cameroon,” the minister said. 

Described as un-African, same-sex relations and practices have never received any friendly or sympathetic response in Cameroon, like some other African countries that in their large majority have outlawed it. 

In 2021, a Douala court in Cameroon’s Littoral region jailed two trans women and fined them USD 370 for violating the anti-homosexuality law. 

The transwomen, Njeuken Loic, also known as Shakiro, and Mouthe Roland, who also goes by Patricia, were each sentenced to five years in prison. In 2019, a Douala court in Ndokoti also sentenced Tanga Armand Cyrille Desire for homosexual practices, as well as incitement to revolt. The court sentenced Tanga to 10 years in prison. The man who was described as ‘a homosexual pastor’ is however said to have escaped and has been declared wanted ever since he was not in court on the day of his sentencing. He first came to the spotlight in 2018, when he was tortured by the police for denouncing mismanagement and corruption. 

In April 2023, a University of Buea student in the Southwest region was severely beaten after rumours had spread that he was gay.  The student had gone to visit a friend and was attacked by a group of irate youths who suspected he had engaged in ‘homosexual activities.’  

Aside from the public’s mistreatment of queer people, Cameroon’s security officials are making their lives even more unbearable. The Cameroonian police stated that many youths believe that ‘becoming’ LGBTQ+ will make them wealthy, adding that it shuttered Yaounde bars that were popular among the queer community. 

In 2022, Human Rights Watch reported a rise in violence against LGBTQ+ people in Cameroon. It cited a report from the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS (CAMFAIDS), which recorded “32 cases of violence and abuse against LGBTI people across the country – an increase of 88 percent from the same period in 2021.”

In 2021, over 100 people in Cameroon were arrested and 40 were jailed on sexual orientation-related grounds. The number keeps increasing, with HRW stating that security forces in Cameroon are failing to protect LGBTQ+ people from violent attacks and instead are arresting the victims.

By Mofor Evans