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Cameroon LGBTI advocates want funders to focus on decriminalization

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Jean-Jacques DISSOKE speaks at the Alternatives Cameroon Meeting in Yaounde, May 17, 2023. (Photo by Steeves Winner)

Jean-Jacques Dissoke speaks at the meeting organized by Alternatives Cameroon in Yaounde, Cameroon, on May 17, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Steeves Winner)

By Steeves Winner

On the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), Alternatives-Cameroon, through its advocacy officer Jean Jacques Dissoke, organized a meeting of organizations and advocates defending the rights of sexual and gender minorities in the central African country.

Under the theme “rethinking the fight against homophobia in Cameroon,” the meeting mobilized 40 people from organizations, embassies and financial partners.

Tracing the evolution of the LGBTI movement in Cameroon since the early 2000s, the meeting highlighted the Cameroonian law condemning sexual relations between persons of the same sex, namely Article 347-1 of the revised Penal Code of 2016, as a primary obstacle for advancing LGBTI rights.

Questioning the contribution of partners in the fight against homophobia in Cameroon, meeting participants noted that funding partners preferred to fund projects in areas such as human rights and health during their calls for expressions of interest. Participants said that, although these sectors contribute to improving the living conditions of LGBTI people, they alone cannot promote the long-awaited decriminalization.

To do so, other sectors such as education, culture, tradition, politics and religion are more important to focus on to contribute to social change and, eventually, decriminalization.

According to Dissoke, “It is time to rethink everything. It is time to give new orientations to the financing. It is time to evaluate the efforts made and finally set up new strategies. To this end, we must change the way of seeing, change the way of saying and change the way of doing.”

During the exchanges, participants proposed to remain committed to human rights defenders, to strengthen the dialogue between partners and organizations defending the rights of LGBTI people, to improve communication strategies, and to extend the fight to more remote parts of the country while working for high-priority changes.

The meeting resolved that the various proposals will be the object of reflection for future exchanges in order to reach a new area of collaboration between partners and organizations to fight against homophobia in Cameroon.

Steeves Winner, the author of this article, is an activist for LGBTI rights in Cameroon who writes under a pseudonym. Contact him at [email protected]

Source: African Human Rights Media Network member Erasing 76 Crimes.