Cameroon to toughen laws against gays

2011-08-20 12:33
Yaounde - Cameroon is preparing to toughen laws against homosexuality, already a crime in the country, by equating gay acts with paedophilia, two gay rights activists told AFP on Friday.

"The government is preparing a reform to the criminal code. In its draft law, it has both maintained and worsened punishment for homosexuality," Alice Nkom, lawyer and president of the Cameroonian Association for the Defence of Homosexuality, said.

"It has widened its jurisdiction and created confusion between homosexuality and paedophilia, which will allow judges to condemn more people more easily," she said.

In the draft law, homosexual acts in general remain punishable by between six months to five years imprisonment, activist Stephane Koche said.

Two new by-laws however punish homosexual acts on minors between 16 and 21 years of age to eight years in jail with 10-15 year terms available for acts committed on minors younger than 16, Koche said.

The new law thus equates acts committed on both age groups as paedophilia, Koche said.

Since late July, two young Cameroonians have been in custody awaiting trial after being surprised by police allegedly committing sex acts in a vehicle with a third person.

In August 2010, rights group Human Rights Watch and local activists Alternatives-Cameroun called for the decriminalisation of homosexuality invoking recommendations made by the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations.

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