Alternatives Cameroon, an LGBTI organisation, reports that government policy makers last week convened to endorse a preliminary draft of a law that imposes harsher penalties for homosexual acts.
The organisation revealed that the government convened a validation meeting on Friday December 2 during which a revision of the current law regarding homosexuality was discussed.
Existing laws criminalise homosexual practice with prison sentences lasting up to five years in prison and a fine of 20,000 CFA to 200,000 CFA francs (US$41 to US$410). The proposed new law will impose harsher penalties with up to 15 years in prison for homosexual acts.
This action comes after several arrests of alleged homosexual men in Douala and Yaoundé, the country’s biggest cities, over the past three months and the sentencing of two others to five years in prison for homosexual acts in November.
Alternatives Cameroon is calling on the international community, civil society organisations, including those involved in the fight against Aids and for Human Rights to oppose and condemn this initiative from Cameroonian government.
In its statement Alternatives Cameroon said that while all studies show that discrimination and criminalization of same sex practices lead to higher risk of HIV infection among men who have sex with men, the country persist in it will to reinforce the laws against homosexuality.
Cameroon recently received 64 billion CFA francs (US$128million) from the Global Fund against Aids, Malaria and Tuberculosis to fund its National Health Strategic Plan which includes actions for Men who have sex with Men.
Alternatives Cameroon asked in its statement, “How will this work if the repression is reinforced? How will men who have sex with men get access to health care if they risk being arrested by the police?”
The organisation asked all Cameroon’s partners, including its financial partners, to engage with the government and ensure that the funds allocated are not marred by a law that strengthens the Aids epidemic.
By Jerina Chandze Messie