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US Slams Cameroon 

By Yerima Kini Nsom

The US Deputy Secretary of State, Linda Thomas Greenfield, regrets that many African countries are still maintaining anti-gay laws, as a leeway to violating the rights of homosexuals. She made the comment in an electronic press briefing with African journalists in Washington DC recently.

Greenfield used the occasion to announce the US-Africa Summit that will take place in Washington DC on August 5 to 6. About 50 African Presidents are expected to attend the summit. The US official made it clear that Washington was not very comfortable with countries that still maintain laws that discriminate against same-sex marriages. She cited Cameroon and Uganda as examples of countries that have hard laws against the practice of homosexuality and that it is a criminal offence punishable by the Cameroon Penal Code. 

According to Greenfield, the US takes great exception to this because it is a country that respects and advocates the respect of human rights, including sexual orientation rights everywhere in the world. She said her country will be hard on organisations and individuals that violate sexual orientation rights. It is worth noting that the Ugandan President Yoweri Mesuveni is in the bad books of the White House for declaring that his country will never reverse the anti-gay laws.

Besides human rights issues, the Washington Summit will discuss matters of governance, security and future generations. President Barack Obama, The Post learnt, has avoided sending invitations to African Presidents that have bloody records of human rights violations and undemocratic practices. These include; the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, whose country is languishing under US sanctions and the Sudanese President, omar el-Bechir, who has been issued an international warrant of arrest by the international criminal court and the President of Eritrea, Issayas Afewerki, who is still languishing in the heat of Washington sanctions. 

It is clear that the above-mentioned trio will not be part of the Washington Summit, and likely that, countries that are seen to be violating the rights of homosexuals will be having an arm’s length relation with Washington.

While the west and international human rights organisations hold that the practice of homosexuality is a fundamental human right, a majority of Cameroonians say it is indecent, ungodly and unimaginable. According to the President of the Cameroon Baptist Convention, CBC, Joe Chebonkeng, the practice of same-sex marriages could only have emanated from the devil. He said the Bible makes it very clear that marriage is between a man and a woman and not people of the same sex. He equally said homosexuality is very alien to African culture and should normally sound odd to the ears of every African man and woman; or rather, provocative that people in same sex marriages look for children to adopt.

Despite pressure of the western world on Cameroon to legalise homosexuality, Government has not budged. The courts have continued to prosecute homosexuality as a criminal offence. Meanwhile Cameroonian female lawyer cum Civil Society, Alice Nkom, received an award in Germany recently for fighting for the rights of homosexuals in Cameroon.