Cameroon men jailed for gay sex are acquitted

Ms Alice Nkom, the lawyer representing two men jailed in 2011 for homosexual acts has told the BBC that the Court of Appeals court in Cameroon overturned their conviction on Monday saying they were not guilty. In November 2011, a court sentenced the two men to five years in prison after police arrested them for allegedly having oral sex in a car in the capital, Yaounde. They denied the charge.

Alice Nkom said she was pleased because the judge who convicted them had been influenced by “stereotypes”. He had stated “the way the men dressed… spoke and the fact that they drank Bailey’s Irish Cream proved they were gay”, she said. She expected the two men to be freed on Tuesday.

She told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme the ruling was not surprising because the men were doing nothing when the police arrested them. “Just because they were wearing women’s clothes and had make-up the police said this must be a network of homosexuals and put them in jail.” She said it was unclear whether the prosecution intended to challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court.

International gay rights campaign group All Out welcomed the ruling. “This case demonstrates that when courts rely on law and fairness instead of bias and stereotypes, justice is possible,” said Andre Banks, the group’s executive director. “And while we celebrate…. we renew the call for President Paul Biya to release all other prisoners who have been prosecuted for allegedly being gay or lesbian under Cameroon’s unfair anti-gay law.”

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