Shakiro and Patricia
Cameroonian transgender social media celebrity Shakiro and her friend Patricia have been sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of “attempted homosexuality”.
Shakiro (also known as Mildred Loic) and Patricia (Moute Rolland) were arrested by military police at a restaurant while eating out in the city of Douala on 8 February.
Police targeted them for their “homosexuality” because of the clothes they were wearing. It’s been claimed that officers threatened and forced them to sign a confession without allowing them to read it.
Reuters reported that in addition to “attempted homosexuality” the court on Tuesday also found the women guilty of public indecency and failing to carry identification. They were additionally fined 200,000 CFA francs (US$370 / R5,190).
In March, Pan Africa Ilga reported that the two women had been imprisoned with more than 30 men in a 10-square-meter space where many detainees had to sleep on the floor.
The organisation Our Wellbeing Cameroon, decried the absurdity of the charges against Shakiro and Patricia. “These two were beside the road where they normally go and eat roasted fish, waiting to be served but unfortunately they were instead arrested. Accused of attempted homosexuality? Here is the big question, how did they attempt homosexuality in public?”
The group said it would continue to provide support to the victims and planned to appeal the court’s decision: “We will not blink, we will not be bullied, we will not be intimidated, we are not giving up!”
Last month, Human Rights Watch said that Cameroonian security forces had since February arbitrarily arrested, beaten, or threatened at least 24 people, including a 17-year-old boy, for alleged consensual same-sex conduct or gender nonconformity.
“These recent arrests and abuses raise serious concerns about a new upsurge in anti-LGBT persecution in Cameroon,” said Neela Ghoshal, associate LGBT rights director at Human Rights Watch. “The law criminalising same-sex conduct puts LGBT people at a heightened risk of being mistreated, tortured, and assaulted without any consequences for the abusers.”
An online petition addressed to the government of Cameroon, the Cameroon Human Rights Commission and international bodies has been set up calling for the release of Shakiro and Patricia.