www.ilga.org

A PRESS WITCH-HUNT TARGETS LISTS OF HOMOSEXUALS
For three weeks, Cameroon has been living to the rhythm of 'revelations' on homosexuality
11/02/2006
Cameroon
Africa

A press witch-hunt for homosexuals -- which includes publishing lists of names of scores of men and women accused of being gay -- has been going on for three weeks in the Cameroun Republic, reports today Radio France Internationale. In an article on RFI's website, Valentin Zinga -- the French public radio network's correspondent in Cameroun's capital, Yaoundé -- relates:

"For three weeks, the big cities have been living to the rhythm of 'revelations' on homosexuality. In the beginning, the campaign was launched by La Meteo, under the headline, 'HOMOSEXUALITY AT THE SUMMIT OF THE STATE.' Then it was Nouvelle Afrique's turn to publish 'a list of queers.' Next, it was l'Anecdote which bannered the revelation of 'THE TOP 50 PRESUMED HOMOSEXUALS OF CAMEROUN,' which it followed up again in future editions with more names. Among those named as homosexual were prominent state officials and bureaucrats, business executives, and musicians -- even dead people. They were only lists of names, with no established facts (at best just reprints of some allegations in articles on Free Masonry disguised as 'investigations.')" (My translation -- D.I.)

On January 31, the RFI report continues, "Jean-Pierre Amougou Belinga (left), editor-publisher of l'Anecdote, held a much-ballyhooed press conference that drew an overflow crowd. But his revelations were rather meager, except for a series of vague assertions. 'We have the proofs for what we've written,' Belinga said, adding -- as a supposed 'proof,' that 'the wives of these men have contacted us, but this is not the moment to go further. It's also a question of strategy.' The edition of l'Anecdote appearing on the day of the press conference reprinted all the previous names accused of being homosexual and added more, next to 'letters of encouragement' attributed to readers who didn't bother to include their addresses, and two denials from persons named as homosexual in the witch-hunt -- Gregoire Owana (right), executive minister in the office of Cameroun's President and Secretary-General of the party in power, the RDPC [Rassemblement Democratique du peuple camerounais], and Rosine Ebassa, a radio host and musician."

RFI's report says that, "Since December 25, the subject [of homosexuality] is on everyone's lips not only in the large cities, but in the countryside. On that day, Monsignor Victor Tonyè Bako (left), the country's Catholic Archbishop (some 40% of Cameroun's people are Catholic -- D.I.), spoke to a large crowd of Christmas worshipers in Yaoundé's cathedral, Notre-dame des Victoires de Yaoundé. Addressing his remarks to 'Ministers, honorable deputies, parents, children, brothers in the priesthood, Christian faithful, and beloved of God,' the Archbishop spoke gravely of 'a social context characterized by the collapse of the great moral and family values....In the name of allocating a job, in the name of getting a promotion, in the name of getting entrance into a good school, people are trying to impose homosexuality on young people as the path to success, or as the condition of admission to certain examinations and competitions. And in certain scholastic establishments, classes are taught to children to make them accept and tolerate homosexuality.' The Archbishop's sermon was distributed in written form, then reprinted as a brochure and sold, becoming a best-seller.''

RFI also notes that "Cameroun's Minister of Communication, Professor Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo (left) -- one of those named as homosexual by two of the publications cited above -- has gone public to insist on the imperative necessity of professionalism by journalists in treating the subject, and announced a cascade of formal complaints against the press. The aggressiveness of a number of publications on this subject, replete with their accusations without any backup, can be interpreted as settling of scores among some of the regime's Big Fish, in an ambiance created by an expected re-shuffle of the government's ministerial appointments -- which, as always, gives the exercise the appearance of being conducted by a sea-serpent." If you can read French, the entire article can be accessed by clicking here.

It should be remembered that homosexuality is a crime in Cameroun, punishable by five years in prison -- and that 9 men have been languishing in prison in the country for six months now, just for being gay. The renewed witch-hunt of the last three weeks, egged on by the country's highest Catholic religious authority, carries with it the threat of more lives destroyed, and more imprisonments to come.
Direland