Top Cameroonian politicians and business leaders are being publicly ‘outed’ as gay, or as having engaged in gay sex, by the country’s tabloid newspapers.

In justification of their controversial actions, the newspapers claim that they are merely exposing “deviant behaviour” in a nation in which homosexuality is illegal.

Sensationalistic headlines have included examples such as “Gays are among us”. Jean Pierre Amougou Belinga, the publisher of L’Anecdote newspaper, has defended his reporting of the story to Reuters, saying that, “We could not remain silent. We had to ring the alarm bell. We don’t regret it and we have to do it again… in spite of numerous death threats me and my journalists have had.”

The headlines have resulted in some newspaper editions being sold out and reprinted to meet public hunger for the story.

One of the 50 or so people that have been named by the media is the Communications Minister Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo. He has threatened legal action and has condemned the outings as an invasion of privacy.

The scandal has however led to growing debate on the issue of sexuality and gay rights in an African country that would normally avoid open discussion of the subject.

Homosexual behaviour is punishable by up to five years in prison in Cameroon, but the law is seldom made use of.

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