Cameroon court acquits men jailed for 'looking gay'

Posted Jan 9, 2013 by JohnThomas Didymus
A court in the West African country of Cameroon has overturned the conviction of two men who were sentenced to five-year prison terms for "looking gay" and ordering Bailey's Irish Cream.
Jonas Kimie
Jonas Kimie
Amnesty International
According to, Jonas Kimie and Franky Ndome were jailed for "looking gay" because they wore women's clothes and were reportedly seen drinking Bailey's Irish Cream. They were arrested outside a nightclub in the Cameroonian city of Yaounde in July 2011. The men, however, denied police claim that they were having oral sex in a taxi in which they were travelling (Digital Journal reporter was unable to confirm whether oral sex is a separate category of crime in Cameroon).
Franky Ndome told Amnesty International: “We have been imprisoned for dressing differently."
UK's Pink News reports that on Monday, lawyer Alice Nkom said she was happy about the court decision to acquit the men. She said the judge who convicted them was influenced by stereotypes about gays.
Pink News reports that Nkom said the judge who convicted the men had pronounced that "the way the men dressed... spoke and the fact that they drank Bailey's Irish Cream proved they were gay." [Emphasis mine]
According to The National Post, Cameroons Court of Appeals on Monday acquitted the men and ordered their release after they had spent more than a year in jail. According to human rights advocates, they were reportedly abused by guards and prisoners who may have been made to feel that their own crimes were not as "immoral" as being gay.
Ndome told Amnesty International that in June 2012, he was beaten by prison guards for refusing to plait a female guard's hair.
The National Post reports that the Court of Appeals ruling has been hailed by human rights lawyers and advocates. President Paul Biya of Cameroon has been under pressure to release all prisoners incarcerated under the country's anti-gay laws.
According to, Godfrey Byaruhanga, central Africa researcher at Amnesty International, said: "Jonas Kimie and Franky Ndome must now be released without delay. The appeal court's ruling is a positive step, but the Cameroon authorities must do more to end discrimination of people accused of same-sex relations."
Man sentenced five years for texting another man 'I love you'
AP reports that on December 17, a Cameroonian court upheld the five-year-sentence passed in the case of another man Roger Jean-Claude Mbede. According to, Mbede was arrested in March 2011 and convicted of the "crime" of homosexuality after he sent a text message to another man that said: "I love you." reports that he suffered from malnutrition and was beaten regularly in jail. Victims of abuse are unable to seek protection from the authorities because of deep and pervasive homophobic attitudes.
People perceived as being of "deviant" sexual orientation are regularly subjected to gross human rights violations in Cameroon and many other African countries. As MSN Now recommends, the best course of action in any circumstance in which an anti-gay African mob suspects you are guilty of the crime of "looking gay" is, grab the nearest other-sex and do something very vigorously heterosexual in public. You may just be lucky to find the mob gaily applauding your demonstration of government and church-approved heterosexuality.
While Africans will glibly cite "African customs and traditions" as reasons for their anti-gay attitudes they are unable to cite specific aspects of "African customs and traditions" that expressly forbid gay sexuality beside the religious traditions of Christianity and Islam which are foreign imports.
Observers have repeatedly noted that African homophobia is an unusually potent mixture of religious indoctrination, hypocrisy and the morbid fear of the unfamiliar (black, Jew, Muslim, foreigner and gay) inherent to human nature.