Murdered Cameroonian gay rights activist mentioned during UK Parliament equal marriage debate

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The plight of a murdered gay rights activist in Cameroon was raised in the House of Commons during Tuesday’s same-sex marriage debate by Labour MP Diane Abbott.

In a question to Yvette Cooper, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary and Shadow Minister for Equalities, Shadow Public Health Minister Diane Abbott said: “It is certainly the case that attitudes in this country have changed, but we have still to see more progress around the world.

“Just yesterday (Monday) a prominent Cameroon gay rights activist was found murdered there. Their neck was broken and their body was broken. Does my right Honourable Friend agree that this debate on this group of amendments this evening will encourage people all over the world to follow the progressive attitudes we are talking about?”

Yvette Cooper, who had met with equal marriage campaigners outside Parliament, replied: “I agree with right Honourable Friend. As the House of Lords was discussing these amendments [to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill], I was talking to some of those outside who were joining in the demonstrations in support of this bill. There were some who are involved in Ugandan and Cameroon groups and organisations who are campaigning for basic human rights for people who live in those countries and can find themselves persecuted.

“They certainly do not enjoy equality before the law or basic human rights and respect for their freedom as well as for their relationships.”

“I hope this is not simply the end of a process, because this is not just about the legislation. It is also about how we make sure it is implemented in practice and how we go further in terms of equality. I hope that many of those who have opposed this bill will come to celebrate it in future.”

The body of Eric Ohena Lembembe, a gay rights campaigner in Cameroon was found at his home in the capital city Yaounde on Monday evening.

Human Rights Watch urged officials in Cameroon to launch an investigation, as the precise motive for his killing was unclear.

A “Gay Hate Day” supported by homophobic figures took place in Cameroon during August 2012 amid a backdrop of international outrage.

Same-sex sexual activity is punishable by up to five years imprisonment in the country.