Amnesty International has reiterated its call to the Cameroonian
government to repeal all laws criminalising consensual same-sex
The move comes weeks after three women were arrested in Ambam,
south-western Cameroon, on suspicion of engaging in same-sex
Two of the women who reportedly did not deny having same-sex
relations were charged with practising homosexuality.
They were also charged with defaming a third woman whose husband
reported their relations to the authorities. They have been granted
a provisional release and the court in Ambam has set the hearing of
their case for 15 March 2012.
it also follows the decision to delay today's appeal hearing of
Jean-Claude Roger Mbede, who was sentenced to three years in prison
for homosexuality in April 2011. Mbede was arrested by members of
the Secretary of State for Defence security service while meeting a
He has appealed against the verdict on the grounds that the law
requires that the defendants be caught in the act, which he was
not. He is currently held at Yaoundé's Kondengui central
His hearing was due to take place today but he was not brought to
court. The date has now been pushed back to 19 March when the
appeal court is expected to decide whether to grant his application
for provisional release.
The hearing had already been adjourned twice.
Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International's director for Africa,
said: "Jean-Claude Mbede is a prisoner of conscience held solely
because of his perceived sexual orientation. All charges against
him should be dropped and he should be released immediately.
"Others who are being held because of their real or perceived
sexual orientation or gender identity must also be freed
"It is time to end the arrest, detention, prosecution and other
forms of persecution and discrimination against people perceived or
known to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
"Laws criminalising same-sex sexual conduct violate a raft of
regional and international human rights laws. This law has created
a climate of fear and allows police to arbitrarily detain and
imprison suspected lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender
individuals where they are at times subjected to torture and other
forms of ill-treatment with impunity.
"Persecution and prosecution of people accused of homosexuality
impedes health initiatives, particularly around HIV and AIDS, that
attempt to reach vulnerable groups, including men who have sex with
men, by driving individuals underground and making it harder for
them to access information and services."
Since March 2011, thirteen people in Cameroon have been arrested
for allegedly practising homosexuality.
All detainees are held under Section 347a of the Cameroonian Penal
Code which states that "Whoever has sexual relations with a person
of the same sex shall be punished with imprisonment from six months
to five years and with a fine ranging from 20,000 Francs CFA to
200,000 Francs CFA (£30 to £3,000)".