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Social Issues
Prominent Gay Rights Activist Tortured And Killed In Cameroon
July 17, 2013
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Eric Ohena Lembembe in an undated photo provided by Erasing 76 Crimes (Photo: AP/Erasing 76 Crimes)

Eric Ohena Lembembe, a prominent gay activist in Cameroon, was found dead earlier this week in his apartment.

His body showed signs of torture: his neck and feet looked broken, according to one friend, and he had been burned with an iron.

Lembembe was one of the most prominent activists for gay rights in one of Africa's most hostile countries for sexual minorities, the Associated Press reports.

As a journalist and the executive director of CAMFAIDS, a human rights organization, Lembembe documented the mistreatment of gay people in Cameroon, writing about violence, blackmail and arrests.

He regularly contributed to Erasing 76 Crimes, a site focused on anti-gay laws around the world. He also wrote several chapters of a book about the global gay rights movement in a book called 'From Wrongs to Gay Rights', which was released in February.

The U.S. State Department issued a statement condemning the killing and calling on Cameroonian authorities "to thoroughly and promptly investigate and prosecute those responsible for his death."

lembembe-facebook.jpgThe killing of Lembembe was not an isolated incident, according to Human Rights Watch: there have been several attacks on the offices of human rights defenders in Cameroon recently.

On June 26, unidentified attackers burned down the headquarters of Alternatives-Cameroun, which provides HIV services to LGBT people.

Days before, Michel Togue, a lawyer who defends clients charged with same-sex conduct, had his office burgled and his laptop and legal files stolen. He has also received death threats by email and SMS, as well as threats against his children.

Like Lembembe, Togue was based in Yaounde.

More people are arrested each year in Cameroon for being gay than in any other country in the world, and homosexuality is punishable there by up to five years in prison.

For more on what life is like for LGBT people in the country, check out the trailer for 'Born This Way', a documentary about gay life in Cameroon, below:

Via UN Dispatch


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