A Call for Decriminalization at the Cameroon National Assembly

IGLHRC believes that a vital part of our mission is supporting the work of activist organizations and allies by disseminating important information on human rights issues affecting LGBT communities worldwide. To this end we are reposting the following announcement from one of our partners.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:
Prodhop: prodhop1@yahoo.fr
Alternatives – Cameroun: alternatives.cameroun@gmail.com

In the city of Douala, Cameroon, an association of human rights organizations has announced in a press conference on Thursday November 5th that a petition and memorandum in favour of the decriminalisation of homosexuality will be submitted to the National Assembly in the next few days.

The groups Prodhop and Alternatives - Cameroun, supported by Jacques Do Bell, a member of the National Commission on Human Rights will explain to the press their motivations for submitting the documents in another press conference. Numerous members of Cameroons' civil society, including politicians, deputies and professors have been invited to the press conference, as individuals in these professions are believed to be the most receptive to the association's appeal.

Hundreds of signatures have been gathered in the city of Douala in support of repealing article 347 of Cameroon's penal code which punishes "all those who have sexual relations with a person of the same sex" with imprisonment from between 5 months to 6 years and a fine of 20 000 to 2000 000 CFA francs. The collective of human rights groups maintains that article 347 is unconstitutional and violates many international treaties and conventions signed by Cameroon that guarantee the right of each individual to free exercise of their rights, including the right to privacy.

The association of human rights organizations has been encouraged by the February 2006 statement of the President of Cameroon, Paul Biya during an address to the youth of Cameroon. The President criticized the local press for publishing the names of individuals who were alleged to be homosexual and called for a greater respect for privacy. After such a statement, the association of human rights has found it difficult to believe that article 347 has yet to be repealed and that magistrates continue to condemn adults who engage in consensual, private homosexual behavior.

For almost 20 years, the secular state of Cameroon has chosen to uphold democracy, human rights and individual liberty. For Prodhop and Alternatives - Cameroun, article 347 is anachronistic and out of synch with the national and international socio-political attitudes. In calling for the repeal of article 347 and the complete decriminalization of homosexual behavior, this association is working for a state in which the human rights of every individual are respected.

Read the press release in French