The sign at a snack bar in Yaoundé that reads: “Forbidden to homosexuals”. (Source: IPS Television)
There are reports that public venues in Cameroon are beginning to ban gay people.
According to IPS Television, at least one venue in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, has announced it will not allow entry to gays and lesbians.
The snack-bar has taken the astonishing step of posting a sign in French on the premises that reads: “Forbidden to homosexuals”.
“I do not want to see any more homosexuals in my bar. I felt I had to put these signs to limit certain behaviours and I noticed that it works, this bar is now forbidden to these people,” explained manager Bénoit Nkoumou.
Human rights activist Serge Douomong commented “that the Cameroonian government should forbid this kind of acts. These reactions in my opinion are only crystallizing the feeling that the population has. The feeling to set apart the LGBTs, which nevertheless interacted with the rest of society.”
The development is another worrying sign in a country that is developing an alarming reputation for discrimination and hate crimes against LGBT people.
Homosexuality is punishable by up to five years in prison, as well as fines in Cameroon, said to have the highest rate of conviction of LGBT people in the world.
According to Human Rights Watch, the country has prosecuted at least 28 people for homosexuality over the past three years.
One example includes Roger Jean Claude Mbede being sentenced in 2011 to three years in prison simply for sending an SMS to another man saying, “I’m in love with you.”
In July, leading Cameroonian LGBT activist Eric Ohena Lembembe was mutilated and murdered in his home. Two weeks earlier, he’d publicly condemned the state’s inaction following several attacks on human rights defenders.
Lembembe’s murder remains unsolved.
Cameroon recently rejected recommendations at the United Nations Human Rights Council to ensure people’s basic rights not to be killed, raped, or assaulted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.