Cameroon court jails gays

2011-11-24 07:43
Yaounde - A court in Yaounde has sentenced three Cameroonian men arrested in July to five years in prison for engaging in gay sex, their lawyer said on Wednesday.

The Ekounou court sentenced the three on Tuesday to five years imprisonment and a fine, the heaviest sentence provided by Cameroonian law, which bans homosexuality, Michel Togue told AFP.

Two of the convicted men were present for the ruling but the third was sentenced in absentia, said Togue, who added he had appealed the decision.

"It's a bad ruling because it is a blatant violation of the law," the lawyer said, citing procedural technicalities when the guilty verdict was handed down.

He also accused the judge of peppering the hearing with homophobic innuendos.

The three were allegedly caught in the act in a vehicle in July.

On August 26, four other Cameroonians were remanded in custody and charged with "indecent behaviour" after what their lawyer described as a set-up.

Gay rights activists subsequently said Cameroon was preparing to toughen its laws on homosexuality and condemned what they said was an attempt to create a confusion between homosexuality and paedophilia.

In September this year, New York-based Human Rights Watch sent a letter to President Paul Biya expressing concern.

"We write to express serious concern about the increased use of criminal laws to punish consensual same-sex relations between adults and non-normative gender expression in Cameroon in recent months," the letter said.

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