Gay Muslim is dead, but he’s still barred from Cameroon cemetery

Even after his death, indignities continued for Isma, a gay Muslim in Cameroon. Because of his sexual orientation, religious authorities refused to allow him to be buried in the local Muslim cemetery.

By Steeves Winner

The location of Cameroon in west-central Africa.

The location of Cameroon in west-central Africa.

Isma (a pseudonym) was in his 30s when he died in eastern Cameroon after a long illness.

Muslim authorities’ refusal to bury Isma’s body was reported by 2HRC, a human rights organization advocating for LGBTI people and refugees in eastern Cameroon.

Rejected by his family, Isma had fled from his home and found an apartment where he could live alone. Abandoned and cast out by the Muslim community because of his sexual orientation, he found support at 2HRC.

He often visited 2HRC’s offices, so his absence was noticed when he didn’t show up for a few weeks. After inquiring about him, the organization learned that Isma had died. Neither his family nor his mosque had paid him any attention.

Leaders of 2HRC pleaded with Muslim authorities to grant him some recognition, but they refused.

A few young acquaintances of Isma took pity on him and arranged for his body to be buried in a secular public cemetery.

Steeves Winner, the author of this article, is an activist for LGBTI rights in Cameroon who writes under a pseudonym. Contact him at steeves.w@yahoo.