A spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern about human rights violations against LGBT people in Cameroon, just days before three individuals convicted under anti-gay law have scheduled appeal hearings.
The statement also condemned threats to attorneys, who received an anonymous SMS threatening their lives and the lives of her family for defending Cameroonians imprisoned because they are thought to be gay.
The global movement for equality AllOut.org has generated over 118,000 signatures calling for Cameroon's President Biya to end the laws that make it illegal to be gay in Cameroon.
Paris, France - The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights came out strongly in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people facing abuse and imprisonment in Cameroon under the law that makes it illegal to be gay. The statement comes just days before three individuals convicted under the anti-gay law will have appeal hearings.
On November 19, 2012 Roger Jean-Claude Mbede will have a hearing appealing his 3-year sentence for sending a text message to another man that said "I'm very much in love with you."
On November 21, 2012 Francky and Jonas will have an appeal hearing for their five year sentence after a judge convicted them under Cameroon's "Jail the Gays" law, because their clothes and drink of choice, Baileys Irish Cream, were too gay.
"The UN human rights office is deeply concerned by reports from Cameroon of the harassment, intimidation, arrest and imprisonment of individuals on suspicion of being lesbian or gay," said a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The UN statement also called on the Government of Cameroon to protect human rights defenders and ensure its penal code, including the law that criminalizes "homosexual behavior," respects international human rights.
"The Government of Cameroon has a duty to end these abuses. It should provide adequate protection to human rights defenders working to protect the rights of LGBT persons," the statement said. "It also should use the ongoing review of the penal code to put forward amendments to Article 347 bis, with a view to bringing the article into compliance with Cameroon's international treaty obligations."
"President Biya must be thinking hard about the impact of these anti-gay laws on Cameroon's international reputation," said Andre Banks, Executive Director and Co-Founder of AllOut.org, the world's largest global LGBT equality organization. "Representatives from the US, the EU, the UK, and now the UN are standing in support of lesbian, gay, bi, and trans people in Cameroon, backed by concerned people from all around the world. Cameroon's government needs to stop pretending these human rights violations aren't happening under their watch."
In the lead up to these hearings, attorneys and LGBT human rights defenders Alice Nkom and Michel Togue, who are defending Roger, Francky, and Jonas, have been receiving numerous anonymous death threats via SMS warning them not to attend the hearings.
"Threats like these shows us that the fight must continue," said Nkom. "If Cameroon's leaders don't end these anti-gay laws now, homophobic threats, violence, and arrests will continue unchecked."
"Myself, my wife, and my family have all received threats like these, all because I defend people who are accused of 'homosexual behavior,'" said Togué. "It's time for Cameroon to stop throwing innocent people in jail for being different, like Francky and Jonas, and end this hate."
"We strongly condemn the threats against Alice Nkom and Michel Togué for their brave work defending people charged under Cameroon's anti-gay law," said Andre Banks. "The police must ensure their ongoing safety throughout the course of Francky's and Jonas' case and others like it. It's time to end the anti-gay law in Cameroon, before more people get caught in the crosshairs."
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UN statement on Cameroon:
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All Out is bringing people together in every corner of the planet and of every identity - lesbian, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender and all that's between and beyond - to build a world in which everyone can live freely and be embraced for who they are.