Trans Influencer Sentenced To Five Years In Cameroon Jail For ‘Attempting Homosexuality’
Two transgender women, one of whom is an influencer, have been sentenced to five years in jail for ‘attempting homosexuality’ and other offences.
Shakiro, a YouTuber who often discusses Cameroon’s discriminatory LGBTQ+ laws on her channel, and her friend Patricia were both arrested in a restaurant on February 8. Since then, they’ve been held in detention.
Now, the court in the city of Douala has handed them both five years behind bars as well as fines of 200,000 CFA francs (£260) each, citing crimes of attempted homosexuality, public indecency and failing to carry identification.
As reported by Reuters, Alice Nkom, one of the lawyers fighting the sentence, said, ‘This is a political decision. It’s [the central government] Yaounde that said these people must not bring homosexuality to Cameroon.’
Nkom, also the head of the Association for the Defence of Rights of Homosexuals, added as per BBC News, ‘It’s a hammer blow. It’s the maximum term outlined in the law. The message is clear: homosexuals don’t have a place in Cameroon.’
Prior to Shakiro and Patricia’s sentence, a petition was launched online in a bid to secure their release which has amassed more than 10,000 signatures. It alleges the pair have been questioned ‘under pressure, threats and torture’ and haven’t received any visits from friends, family or legal counsel.
Cameroon is just one of 31 countries across Africa which criminalise same-sex relations. Earlier in April, Human Rights Watch also found at least 24 people, including a 17-year-old boy, had been arrested, beaten or threatened across the country with regards to LGBTQ+ discrimination since February this year.
Neela Ghoshal, associate LGBTQ+ rights director at Human Rights Watch, said, ‘These recent arrests and abuses raise serious concerns about a new upsurge in anti-LGBT persecution in Cameroon. 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.’
One transgender woman told the group, ‘Police told us we are devils, not humans, not normal. They beat a trans woman in the face, slapped her twice in front of me.’
Sharing the news, activist Bandy Kiki wrote, ‘A country that doesn’t respect its citizens’ fundamental human rights is a failed state. It is imperative to note that Shakiro and Patricia were each given a five years sentence for attempted homosexuality without any tangible evidence.’
She added, ‘Cameroonians should be worried about how the law is being applied but homophobia has paralysed our sense of judgement and humanity. We are all contributors to the hell hole we call a country.’
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or email [email protected]