Activists in Cameroon have called on Pope Francis to intervene against continued anti-gay vitriol from Catholic clerics in the country.
The LGBT group Alternatives-Cameroon said that it was alarmed at the tone of statements issued at a meeting of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon on 12 January in Batouri.
At the meeting, the bishops issued an unanimous appeal for Catholics to have “zero tolerance” towards homosexuality.
They described homosexuality as “this abominable thing that goes against nature” and warned that it “risks becoming a social outbreak.”
An outraged Alternatives-Cameroon commented that, “if Pope Francis seems to have a more conciliatory approach to the subject, it is clear he is struggling to implant this approach within the church he leads.”
The organisation urged the Catholic Church “to fulfil its primary mission to promote peace, love and tolerance and finally to be at the sides of the oppressed and those left behind.”
The group also called on Francis “to get control of the Cameroonian prelate, including the bishops of the National Episcopal Conference, and to harmonise the discourse of the Church.”
While Pope Francis has made public statements about not judging gay people he has made no moves to address the widespread support by the Catholic Church in Africa for inhuman anti-gay laws and the persecution of LGBT people.
Same-sex sexual acts are illegal in Cameroon, with penalties of up to five years in prison.
A 2013 Human Rights Watch report found that most cases in which people were prosecuted for homosexuality in the country were marked by grave human rights violations. These included torture, forced confessions, denial of access to legal representation, and discriminatory treatment by law enforcement and judicial officials.