PROTESTERS gathered outside the Cameroon High Commission in London yesterday to demand action over the murder of LGBT and HIV activist Eric Lembembe and against the on-going persecution of LGBT people in Cameroon.
Cameroonian gay activist Eric Lembembe was tortured and murdered in his own home earlier this month.
The protest was organised by the African LGBTI organisation, Out and Proud Diamond Group, with the support of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, Eugene Fomekong, who worked with Eric Lembembe and fled Cameroon fearing victimisation, outlined four demands to the government of Cameroon:
We urge a proper investigation into the killing of Eric Lembembe, the prosecution of those responsible, the immediate release of all those in prison because they are LGBT and for everyone in Cameroon to be able to exercise their full human rights.
Protest organiser Edwin Sesange, from the African LGBTI network, Out & Proud Diamond Group, added:
We strongly condemn the brutal murder of Eric Lembembe. The government of Cameroon should be held to account. The international community must stop its soft talk about the abuse of LGBTI human rights in Cameroon and the savage killing of Eric Ohena Lembembe. They should issue a travel warning that Cameroon is high risk for LGBTI people.
The murder of Eric Lembembe will not be the death of the struggle. We support calls for Cameroon to be suspended from the Commonwealth until it ceases its homophobic persecution.
Human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, attended the protest and said:
Eric was a courageous public champion of the rights of LGBT people and people with HIV. He was subjected to a particularly gruesome attack. Many other LGBT people in Cameroon have been victims of violent threats and assaults. Several are in prison for consenting same-sex relations. Roger Jean-Claude Mbede was jailed for three years for sending a text message to another man saying ‘I love you.’ Such harsh punishments are barely believable.
Cameroon is one of the most homophobic countries in the world. The persecution of LGBT people is officially sanctioned by the government. President Paul Biya has failed to speak out against the killing of Eric Lembembe. He has queer blood on his hands.
Cameroon’s homophobic policies violate the equal treatment and non-discrimination clauses of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, which Cameroon has signed and pledged to uphold.
Cameroon should be suspended from the Commonwealth. Its state-sponsored anti-gay witch-hunt violates Commonwealth values and the Commonwealth Charter. The Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma, must end his silence and speak out publicly against homophobic persecution in Cameroon. President Paul Biya should also publicly condemn the killing and halt the state-sponsored victimisation of LGBT people.