LGBT Arrests and Abuses Surge in Cameroon, Human Rights Watch Reports

Security forces in Cameroon have “arbitrarily arrested, beaten, or threatened” lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in a country where same-sex relations are criminalized, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on April 14.

The international rights group said that recent documented accounts of arrest and abuse of at least 24 LGBT people, including a 17-year-old boy, since February 2021 indicate an overall surge of police action against LGBT people in Cameroon.

“These recent arrests and abuses raise serious concerns about a new upsurge in anti-LGBT persecution in Cameroon,” HRW Associate LGBT Rights Director Neela Ghoshal said in a statement.

“The law criminalizing same-sex conduct puts LGBT people at a heightened risk of being mistreated, tortured, and assaulted without any consequences for the abusers,” Ghoshal further stated.

HRW said that Cameroon police last Feb. 24 arrested 13 people on homosexuality charges during a raid at the office of Colibri, an organization that provides HIV prevention and treatment services, in Bafoussam.

HRW also said that police threatened and verbally assaulted all those arrested, as well as interrogated them without the presence of a lawyer.

HRW also said police forced one of the arrested, a 26-year-old transgender woman, to undergo an HIV test and anal examination at a health center last Feb. 26.

According to HRW, several people in Cameroon have been subjected to forced anal exams and HIV tests to confirm charges of “consensual homosexual conduct.”

HRW said it shared its findings with government officials, however, no officials have responded yet.

“The authorities should immediately end arbitrary arrests on the basis of sexual identity and forced anal examinations and should take swift steps to repeal the law criminalizing consensual same-sex relations,” Ghoshal stated.

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