The first female lawyer in Cameroon, the dean of the Cameroonian bar, has made her life a struggle to legalize homosexuality in a country where LGBT people face up to five years in prison. A fight that he is expected to defend at the Africa-France summit in Montpellier until Saturday.
Her cane alone betrays to her young clients the big woman nicknamed “Mom”. She turns 76 but she will be given 60. Alice N. Gomez, dean of Cameroonian lawyers and defender of LGBT rights, is not ready to retire. “I have no reason to stop. I must finally wage a struggle: to get homosexuality outlawed in my country.”
Traditional dressed in a badge in rainbow colors, he has completed a tour of LGBT associations in France. The calendar has no chance, just before the Africa-France summit in its column Montpellier, on October 8, at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron, brings together actors from the business world and African civil society.
In Cameroon, Alice N. Gomez was the first woman to be admitted to the Douala bar in 1969. A bar that helped others to find in Cameroon, the industry at the time was mainly practiced by white men from France. When she turns 24, she “did it for her love”, she was inspired by a husband who trusted her.
The first association for the protection of Cameroonian homosexuals
In a country where homosexuality is banned, the lawyer sees the march in the correctional courts, and in the early 2000s, young homosexuals risked up to five years in prison. “During my interrogation, I saw these poor young people who were formally condemned for homosexuality and asked only one thing: they will run away and be forgotten after being punished. For me this is unacceptable!” I began to read the question, how can I bring this debate to the national table? I began to ask myself that. They needed a megaphone to explain that they were full citizens and not completely separate citizens.
Very quickly, Alice advanced to the N.Com plate, and in 2003 founded the first anti-homosexual NGO in Cameroon: the Association for the Protection of Homosexual Rights (Adefo). For this gesture, he will be called by the Chancellor because a Cameroonian organization refers to the word “gay”. A great speaker, the lawyer will eventually convince him, but very few young LGBT individuals will dare to join Adefo. “The association was obviously designed for them, but they were afraid of‘ outing ’ [la révélation de leur homosexualité]”, She summed up. Whatever it is, a step has been taken. His organization paves the way for others.
At the same time, Alice Nkom goes the other way to approach young Cameroonian homosexuals who are rejected by their families and is isolated by fear of revenge. The activist advocate founded the second association, “Taking into account the advice of members of the Cameroonian LGBT community,” who focused more on the health of these young people: Cidado, which cares for adolescents facing AIDS.
Intimidation, contempt, court assault …
But the more she publicizes her fight, the more she is threatened. “I sometimes begged Yande to join the bodyguards,” he says. At one point, I got phone calls day and night. I was called a witch and I told the kids to ‘break the asses’ … it was so violent. I have become a person to be avoided. These people thought I could stop arguing for anyone I wanted.
However, Alice Nognom did not let herself get tired. “I went around the courts, I saw homosexual trials all over the country. I made myself in the care of these young people who no one cared about.”
In 2007, in an interview with the RFI, the lawyer slammed the law against homosexuality in Cameroon. This time, it was the Minister of Justice who attacked him through the Cameroonian Magistrates’ Association. A complaint of “apology for the crime” was filed against the activist, but without leading to a conviction.
Alice N.Com condemns the lack of education of the population, but, according to her, this needs to be changed above all else. “At least this will not change unless there is respect for the values of democracy and human rights,” he says. “When power is in the hands of one individual and the separation of powers is a fascination, we must divert people’s attention to something,” Cameroonian President Paul Pia describes in detail the words hidden from power. 1982. “A ready target for homosexuals.”
However, in Cameroonian civil society, moods continue to change, with attacks and arrests – frequent denunciations – on the rise. “It is enough if someone condemns you because a thin voice or a woman’s gait, in a face offense, the hand of a court will fall on you,” the lawyer explains.
More than a hundred LGBT individuals were arrested
Thanks to a joint platform that brings together forty associations, reports are on the rise. And the numbers are not good. Since the beginning of 2021, more than a hundred arrests have been recorded, some defendants awaiting trial and more than forty have been jailed for sexual orientation. “This morning, a young man in prison called me to say he had 20 homosexuals locked up with him,” said Alice N. Gomez, who centered on a number of sources.
Since February, attorney Shakiro and Patricia have been working on the case, with five transgender people arrested at a restaurant for homosexuality and personal indecency. Me n com has granted temporary release to two of its customers and is awaiting an appeal hearing in October.
In Alice Encom’s domain, successes are rare. So the lawyer gets more from each of them. Recently, at the UN Forum, US President Joe Biden named Cameroon along with Chechnya as one of the most homosexual countries in the world. “This is nothing,” he said, adding that the White House was proud of its success in alerting the Cameroonian LGBT people to the situation.
The prosecutor counts on international pressure to replace the Cameroonian authorities and encourage them to prosecute. “The United States is one of Cameroon’s key development partners. Asks. “This is not France’s position, she laments.
“I expect everything from France, I have nothing right now,” she says a little bitterly. France signs treaties on human rights, the rule of law and respect for the environment. She tries to use her, but she allows her allies to go unpunished before her eyes.
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