Cameroon urged to release jailed men for wearing ‘gay’ clothes and for drinking Baileys

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The US, EU and campaign groups have strongly condemned Cameroon’s appalling gay rights record ahead of a court appeal involving two men.

On Friday 19 October, a Cameroon court is scheduled to issue a decision in the case of Francky and Jonas who are currently serving 5 years in prison after a judge found them guilty of “homosexual behaviour” under the basis of their clothes, speech and drink preferences, which reportedly was based on their consumption of Baileys, an Irish whiskey and cream liqueur.

The pair were arrested in July 2011 in a car outside a night club in the Cameroonian capital, Yaoundé. Executive Director and Co-Founder Andre Banks said:

“The judge gave the highest possible sentence to Francky and Jonas because their vocabulary was ‘feminine’, because they drank a beverage that’s perceived to be something gay men drink, and because the clothes they were wearing were not ‘masculine’ enough”.

US Ambassador to Cameroon Robert Jackson released a statement, saying: “[Gays and lesbians] are human beings, and I refer to this issue because it is a human rights issue. Cameroon is the only CEMAC country that outlaws homosexual acts”.

Ambassador Jackson also made a reference to Jean-Claude Roger Mbede, a Cameroonian man who was jailed under the country’s anti-gay laws in 2011, after text messages he sent to a male acquaintance were seen by police officials.

The EU has once again called on Cameroon to end homophobic persecution.

“The Delegation of the European Union to Cameroon is fully engaged in favour of the full respect of human rights in Cameroon, among others the decriminalisation of homosexuality,” said an EU official. is also urging Cameroon’s President Biya to free those imprisoned under the country’s homophobic laws and more than 100,000 people have signed the campaign group’s petition to overturn the conviction of Mr Mbede.

He is currently out on bail while he awaits his appeal on 19 November.