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Cameroon LGBT Activists Supply Life Saving Provisions

December 6, 2010
Cameroon Map

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African Countries continue to act extremely intolerant to LGBT citizens.  29 African countries have specific laws making homosexuality illegal for men and 20 countries for women.  Even in South Africa which has laws protecting LGBT, their legal and policing systems are in shambles and unable or unwilling to enforce basic human rights laws, let along LGBT protections.  For example, South African’s continue the cultural practice of corrective rape; the belief is raping a lesbian will ‘convert’ her into being straight once she’s experienced a man.  Given this type of agression towards LGBT; activists not only provide moral support, but often provide food, shelter, money and clothing for victimized people.

After eight years of study and obtaining his medical degree in Russia, Nemande found himself back in Cameroon, en route to a more bustling locale like Johannesburg for additional schooling. But something kept him in Cameroon — he saw a need for advocacy and activism for the country’s persecuted LGBT population.

Eventually, Nemande became the head of Alternatives-Cameroun, a now four-year-old organization that provides services and help for gay people in the region. While he was quite aware of his sexual orientation when he took the post, his family did not know he was gay until rumors about his new job spread to his father.

“Two gay men were arrested for being homosexual,” he told The Advocate, the day after he was presented with Human Rights Watch’s Alison Des Forges Award for his work. “After they were released, it was unsafe for them to return home, so I invited them to Douala to relax. We housed them at my apartment, but because of the way they dressed, and the way they acted, people knew they were gay.”

Furthermore, national and religious leaders openly talk about suppressing homosexuality to further “positive African cultural values.” Newspapers have also flooded their pages with antigay editorials, and police often beat people they suspect of being gay.
With the promotion of such attitudes comes isolation and stigma for gay people. Women who marry men only to later be exposed as lesbians often lose custody of their children, and most lose family support as well, leaving them homeless and alone… Some gay people also become subject to extortion on the part of neighbors and even friends and family.

“Let’s say you meet someone online, and you decide to meet,” Nemande said. “Then all of a sudden, a woman comes to the door, she calls the neighbors, and everyone comes to take your possessions and money, as a means to ‘buy security.’ And, of course, you cannot go to the police, because they will arrest you for being a homosexual.”

via LGBT Asylum News: In Cameroon LGBT activism means supplying food, clothes, and cash.

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