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LGBT persecution on the rise in Cameroon, Human Rights Watch says

April 14, 2021

DOUALA (Reuters) - Cameroon security forces have arrested, threatened or assaulted at least 24 people since February in a ramped-up crackdown on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) people, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Wednesday.

The rights group said recent documented accounts of abuse, including that of a 17-year old boy, point to an overall rise of police action against LGBT+ people in Cameroon, where same-sex relations are criminalised.

Cameroon authorities did not respond to Reuters requests for comments. HRW said it shared its report with Cameroon’s justice, and defence ministries, and the head of police. It received no response to a March 25 letter requesting answers to specific questions.

The HRW report comes as two transgender women have been detained in a crowded prison for more than two months after being arrested on Feb. 8 for wearing women’s clothing while eating at a restaurant in Douala, Cameroon’s largest city.

Loic Njeukam, a local social media celebrity known as Shakiro, and Roland Mouthe were charged in court on Monday with “attempted homosexuality”. They both pleaded not guilty.

A guilty verdict can carry a sentence of up to five years.

Their trial is scheduled to begin on April 26 after repeated delays.

“These recent arrests and abuses raise serious concerns about a new upsurge in anti-LGBT persecution in Cameroon,” Neela Ghoshal, associate LGBT rights director at Human Rights Watch said in a statement.