The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) sent a letter last Friday to the president of Cameroon, asking him to protect an LGBT rights attorney from threats in the central west African country following news of her organization’s receipt of a European Union grant.
According to a news release from IGLHRC, state officials have threatened to arrest Alice Nkom, chairperson of of L’Assocation pour la Défense de l’ Homosexualité (ADEFHO). The attorney has defended young men arrested in 2005 on charges of homosexuality, which is illegal in Cameroon. She also has been threatened with violence from some civil society actors, one of which is a youth group that declared a fatwa against LGBT people.
In the letter to Cameroon president Paul Biya, IGLHRC executive director Cary Alan Johnson wrote, “Harassment of Madame Nkom and ADEFHO has mounted since January 4 when the newspaper, Quotidien Le Jour, reported that ADEFHO would receive a grant from the European Union (EU) for a project entitled, ‘Support and Training for Sexual Minorities.’ Legally registered in Cameroon since 2003, ADEFHO is a national human rights organization based in Douala that provides legal defense to people discriminated against on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. Since then, there has been an escalating series of disturbing events,” which the letter describes in detail.
The letter asks President Biya to ensure the safety of Nkom, ADEFHO members and all LGBT people in Cameroon.
Last November, IGLHRC, ADEFHO, Human Rights Watch, and Alternatives Cameroon released a report that documented abuses against the LGBT community in Cameroon based on the country’s law against sodomy.