Cameroon ― African Commission ― LGBTI Rights ― Aug. 2013

The Advocates for Human Rights in collaboration with CAMFAIDS (the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS), REDHAC (Le Réseau des Défenseurs des Droits Humains en Afrique Centrale), and ADEFHO (L’Association pour la Défense des Droits des Homosexuels) submitted a report on the violation of rights on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the Republic of Cameroon to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights for its 54th Ordinary Session in October 2013. This report describes the widespread persecution of and discrimination against people on the basis of perceived and actual sexual orientation and gender identity.

The government of Cameroon has failed to uphold its human rights obligations with respect to sexual minorities and human rights defenders who serve and support people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI). Sexual minorities are subject to harassment and abuse by citizens and by law enforcement. In July 2013, LGBTI activist and executive director of CAMFAIDS, Eric Ohena Lembembe, was tortured and killed. The response of Cameroonian authorities has been lackluster. Mr. Lembembe’s murder prompted the African Commission’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders to condemn the violence and the persistent climate of insecurity of human rights defenders in Cameroon. Consequently, The Advocates has submitted a copy of this report to the Special Rapporteur, as well as to the commission.

Recommendations to the government of Cameroon include:

  • Repeal the law criminalizing consensual sexual relations between adults of the same sex;
  • Enact legislation to outlaw hate crimes, including those motivated by the victim’s perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity;
  • Direct law enforcement to cease harassment and abuse of people suspected to be sexual minorities;
  • Publicly condemn the murder of Eric Ohena Lembembe;
  • Appoint and fund a nationwide task force to create a plan to end discrimination against sexual minorities; and
  • Collaborate with civil society organizations and the media to design and implement a public sensitization campaign to change societal attitudes about sexual minorities.