A few days after the slaughter of gay rights activist David Kato in Uganda, it is important to recall the background of homophobia in Africa.
A topic that remains taboo to many African microcosms, homophobia caused a raging debate in Cameroon two weeks ago.
On January 11, 2011 the European Union (EU) announced that it would grant 300,000 euros to a project launched by Alice Nkom, a Cameroonian lawyer and gay rights activist. Her initiative called Assistance and Supervision of Sexual Minorities Project (Projet d'assistance et d'encadrement des minorités homosexuelles – PAEMH) raises LGBT related issues.
The EU's representative in Cameroon was summoned by the Cameroonian Minister of External Relations on January 14, 2011, whereby disapproval was expressed at the funding choice.
The news of the funding caused plenty of violent reactions. Camer.be, an information site for the Cameroon diaspora, published an article on January 14, 2011 “EU finances homesexuality : financing of illegality” [fr] in which the journalist explains that the European Union did not respect article 347 bis of the Cameroon penal code, which forbids same sex relationships. The article was written by a spokesperson from the Rally of Cameroonian Youth (RJC).
Among the 53 comments left on the article, Lolypop writes :
Mince alors, cette page est contaminée. Trop de “depso” viennent jouer les avocats à leur compte. Vivement le retour des chambres à gaz.
Following this discharge of hatred, Camer.be and the former RJC website (now offline) were suspended because of legislation enforced in the countries of their hosts, where European law forbids homophobic speech.
In spite of this violent atmosphere against her action, Alice Nkom does get support from Cameroon citizens and others. On her Facebook profile, where she has more than 4,500 friends, Herve Obiang encourages her to persist in her struggle:
Même s'il fallait que je puisse mourrir pour la lutte contre l'homophobie, alors sache que je me donnerais car tu es une maman, une femme et une très grande dame.