Cameroon 'gays' win appeal

2013-01-07 20:37
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Yaounde - Two young men from Cameroon who in 2011 were convicted of gay sex and sentenced to five years in prison were acquitted on appeal on Monday, their lawyer said.

Saskia Ditisheim, a lawyer from a Swiss legal aid group, said a court in the capital Yaounde had declared the men "not guilty" of homosexuality, which is outlawed in Cameroon.

"I can't believe it, I welcome the judges' courage," said Ditisheim, who works for Switzerland's Lawyers Without Borders (Avocats Sans Frontieres).

The men, who were identified only as Franky and Jonas, were due to be released after some paperwork had been completed.

"As soon as they are freed, they absolutely must be placed in safety, otherwise they will be killed," Ditisheim said.

She added that foreign nations should offer the men visas so they can move overseas.

In recent weeks, lawyers for gay people and accused homosexuals have been targeted by death threats in Cameroon.

Franky and Jonas were sentenced to five years in jail in November 2011 and ordered to pay a €300 fine, the heaviest penalty allowed.

A third person was also convicted with Jonas and Franky but was not part of the appeals process.

Many African nations outlaw homosexuality. In Uganda, proposed legislation would see the death penalty imposed for certain homosexual acts.

Read more on:    cameroon  |  gay rights  |  west africa
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