Two transgender women were sentenced to five years in prison in Cameroon on Tuesday for “attempted homosexuality” and other offences after being arrested for the clothes they wore in a restaurant, according to their lawyers.
On February 8, a local social media celebrity known as Shakiro, also known as Loic Njeukam, and Patricia, also known as Roland Mouthe, were arrested. Their detention, according to human rights groups, is part of Cameroon’s rising criminalization of sexual minorities and transgender people.
Their lawyers told Media that the two were sentenced to the maximum penalty of five years in prison and fines of 200,000 CFA francs ($370). They were found guilty of public indecency and failure to bear registration, in addition to “attempted homosexuality.”
“This is a political decision,” said Alice Nkom, one of the attorneys, who promised to appeal the decision. “Yaounde (the central government) has stated that these individuals must not bring homosexuality to Cameroon.” A request for comment from the government went unanswered right away.
Cameroon is one of over 30 African countries that prohibits same-sex relationships. For suspected homosexuality, its courts have previously sentenced people to long jail terms. According to Human Rights Watch, Shakiro and Patricia’s arrests appeared to be part of an “overall increase in police action” against sexual minorities.
Since May 2020, 53 people have been arrested in raids on HIV and AIDS organisations, with some alleging that they were beaten and forced to undergo “anal tests” to validate allegations of homosexuality, according to the rights group.