Lawyer advocating for gay Cameroonians speaks in D.C.
A lawyer who represents LGBT Cameroonians on Thursday urged his African country’s government to stop the persecution of gay men and lesbians. “Gay people are not seeking everyone to approve of their behavior,” Michel Togué said during a roundtable at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights in Northwest D.C. “They are seeking freedom.” Authorities since 2010 have prosecuted nearly 30 people under the section of the country’s penal code that imposes a sentence of up to five years in prison and a roughly $400 fine against anyone convicted of same-sex sexual activity. These include Jean-Claude Roger Mbede, whom police in the Cameroonian capital of Yaoundé arrested in March 2011 after he sent a flirtatious text message to another man. Police in July 2011 arrested Jonas Kimie and Franky Ndome outside a Yaoundé nightclub and charged them under Cameroon’s anti-homosexuality law. A judge referenced the couple’s clothes and their “feminine” speech before sentencing them to five years in prison. Kimie and Ndome last month went into hiding after an appellate court released them.