Cameroon jails two transgender women for 'attempted homosexuality.'

by Helvine Achieng
May 13, 2021

A court in Cameroon has sentenced two transgender women to five years in prison for "attempted homosexuality" and other offences. This major move was made after they were arrested for the clothes they wore in a restaurant. The two ladies were arrested on February 8.

Human rights activists say the detention of transgender women is part of the growing criminalization of sexual minorities in Cameroon. The two will receive the maximum sentence of five years in prison and fines of 200,000 CFA francs (Ksh. 39,534).

Besides "attempted homosexuality", the two ladies were convicted of public indecency and failing to carry identification.

"This is a political decision," said one of the lawyers, Alice Nkom, who vowed to appeal the verdict. "It's Yaounde (the central government) that said these people must not bring homosexuality to Cameroon."

Cameroon is one of more than 30 African countries where same-sex relations are illegal. Its courts have previously sentenced people to multi-year prison sentences for their alleged homosexuality. Fifty-three people have been arrested in raids on HIV and AIDS organizations since May 2020, with some reporting having been beaten and subjected to forced "anal examinations" to confirm accusations of homosexuality.

Human Rights Watch said last month that the two ladies' arrests seemed to be part of "an overall uptick in police action" against sexual minorities.