Pope Benedict XVI

Amnesty International has asked Pope Benedict, during his visit to Africa, to urge the government of Cameroon – a country that criminalises same-sex sexual relations – to eradicate discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“The Pope should take the important opportunity of this visit to Cameroon to make clear that the Holy See abhors any attacks or persecution of people based on their sexual orientation, and call on the government to decriminalise homosexuality,” said Tawanda Hondora, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme.

While refusing to sign a declaration calling for the decriminalisation of LGBT people at the UN in December, a representative of the Vatican said at the time that it “continues to advocate that every sign of unjust discrimination towards homosexual persons should be avoided, and urges States to do away with criminal penalties against them.”

Amnesty’s call now asks the Vatican to put these words into action during the Pope’s first visit to the African continent.

Over the past three years, Amnesty International has documented the arrest and detention of several dozen young men and women in Cameroon, some of whom have been sentenced to prison terms and fines for allegedly engaging in consensual same-sex sexual relations.

“Dozens of Cameroonian men and women have been detained solely for their actual or perceived engagement in consensual same-sex sexual relations – this is simply unacceptable. We hope that the Pope will make this clear to the government and the Church’s leaders and many followers in Cameroon during his visit,” said Hondora.

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