Human rights advocacy groups are calling on the government of Cameroon to drop charges against two men who will stand trial today for being gay.
“By arresting people purely because of their alleged sexual orientation, the Cameroonian government is flagrantly violating international human rights treaties which it has signed or ratified,” Amnesty International’s Africa Program Director told the BBC.
The charges stem from an incident on the night of July 25 when two men returning from a bar were stopped by local police who initially assumed the pair were women based on their appearance. After the officer asked for the men’s IDs and saw that they were male, the men were detained by authorities until August 1, where they say they were tortured. The men say they were not given food and were slapped and beaten in efforts to force a confession.
The two will now stand trial on charges of homosexuality, a crime in Cameroon that carries a maximum punishment of up to five years in prison.
In addition to violating international laws, advocates say Cameroonian law was also violated when the men were held for over 48 hours without being brought before a judge or magistrate.
“You never have a fair trial in Cameroon concerning homosexuality,” the men’s lawyer, Alice Nkom, said. “Sometimes they [the authorities] send a doctor to check your anus. This is humiliation and an act of torture.”
This March, a Cameroonian man was sentenced to three years in prison for homosexuality.
Gay communities across Africa are struggling to gain equal treatment and respect from societies and governments across the continent. Many countries in Africa still have laws criminalizing homosexuality and many live in fear of public ridicule or death as a result of their sexual orientation.
(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)