The capital, Yaoundé
Police have raided a bar popular with the gay community in Cameroon, arresting everyone inside in an act of homophobic harassment.
According to reports received by Erasing 76 Crimes, the mass arrest happened at the Mistral bar in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The Yaoundé hotspot was surrounded by officers and vehicles in a commando style operation at around 3am. The entrance was blocked and no-one was allowed to leave as police searched the premises.
Revellers were then rounded up by officers and forced into police trucks. All the patrons were taken to local police stations. It’s been reported that they have since been released.
“In a country where gay men are stigmatised, with a law against homosexual activity, people feared that being rounded up at a gay bar would have troubling consequences for their personal lives and their relationships with family members,” wrote a Cameroonian LGBT rights activist.
It’s unclear on what basis the arrests were made but an LGBTI rights organisation, Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS (Camfaids), said that the victims were “molested and arrested on the sole grounds that they are homosexual”.
The organisation issued a warning to the LGBT community about the police activity and called for “an end to this intimidation”.
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.