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IDAHOBIT in Cameroon: Amid Covid-19 crisis, activists demand LGBTI rights

Despite the global health crisis, LGBTI activists in Cameroon figured out how to celebrate IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia) on May 17.

From the African Human Rights Media Network

By Courtney Stans

Anti-Covid-19 measures such as Cameroon’s lockdown and prohibition of gatherings larger than 50 people presented a challenge to organizations seeking to organize protests against the homophobia and related intolerance that is so common in Cameroon.

Some organizations decided to delay planned activities, but others developed new socially distant strategies for their activism.

Alternatives – Cameroon, one of the largest and most experienced LGBTI rights organizations in Cameroon, launched a public awareness campaign through a video montage that traces the birth of the organization and how it evolved by overcoming major challenges while promoting tolerance and acceptance of sexual and gender minorities.

In a collaboration between Humanity First Cameroon and Alternatives Cameroon, activists wrote press releases to denounce the violence and human rights violations that LGBTI people face in Cameroon.

Camfaids held a discussion and information session for its beneficiaries at their headquarters. To protect against transmission of the new coronavirus, this activity incorporated systematic washing of hands, respect for social distancing and the wearing of masks.

The LGBTI anti-AIDS organizations Colibri in Bafoussam and 2HRC in Bertoua held festive evenings, giving LGBTI Cameroonians the opportunity to express themselves positively. (The IDAHOBIT party near Bafoussam was broken up by police. More on that later.)

The legal aid group Défenseurs Sans Frontières postponed the activities it had planned for IDAHOTBIT day.

One LGBTI leader commented:

“What’s essential is not always to organize a thousand activities on IDAHOTBIT day, but to be able to send a strong signal to those who perpetrate homophobic and transphobic violence in order to make them understand the frustrations we experience and the love we have to share. To break the silence is to challenge consciences.”

Courtney Sans, the author of this article, is a Cameroonian journalist who writes under a pseudonym. Contact her at [email protected].