Killing of gay rights activist Lembembe highlights plight of Cameroon’s remaining LGBT activists

September 2, 2013

JULIA HANN wrote for allAfrica.com on 28 August that the torture and murder of Cameroonian gay rights activist Eric Lembembe on July 11 has shattered the hopes of those who were quick to herald a “global momentum” in the international gay rights movement. Just two weeks before his death, Lembembe, the executive director of the Cameroonian Foundation for Aids CAMFAIDS, had warned that “a climate of hatred and bigotry in Cameroon which extends to high levels in government, reassures homophobes that they can get away with these crimes” in response to a series of un-investigated attacks against offices of gay rights organizations. Regarded as a consequence of Cameroon’s increasing “climate of homophobia” that clashes with the country’s increasingly vocal LGBT movement, his murder has left the country’s gay rights groups fearful. In Cameroon and many other African countries, social and legal developments that increasingly threaten the safety of same-sex minorities sharply contrast the recent success stories of the global gay rights movement. While Cameroon remains one of the most repressive nations in terms of gay rights, Lembembe’s murder has stirred international pressure on its government to stop turning a blind eye to hate crimes and to end its on-going criminalization of homosexuality. MediaGlobal News spoke with Cameroonian human rights lawyer and founder of the non-profit Association for the Defence of Homosexuals ADEFHO, Alice Nkom, shortly before Lembembe’s death. Despite the mounting danger, Nkom vowed to continue with the struggle for equality: “It has become more difficult. I must die, and I will. Because many died for us to be free today–free to be a woman, to be a black woman, to do what I do. So we must continue,” Nkom, Cameroon’s first female lawyer and one of the country’s few outspoken and fierce defenders of sexual minorities, has been the target of threats of death and arrest by members of the government and other Cameroonian lawyers. These threats, though frequently published in local media, remain uninvestigated. Alice Nkom tells MediaGlobal News that in recent history, the hostilities against Cameroonian gay rights defenders like her and Michel Togue have intensified. After a series of death threats against their families in October 2012, Togue fled Cameroon and was granted asylum in the U.S. while Nkom has remained under constant protection of bodyguards.

via allAfrica.com: Cameroon: Tragic Death of Gay Rights Activist Sheds Light On the Plight of Cameroons LGBT Community Page 1 of 2.

 

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