Activist and influencer Bandy Kiki was from Cameroon where he said she was a lesbian, which could lead to jail. After emigrating to the UK a decade ago, he struggled to adapt to the new security.
Homosexuality is a crime that can be punished with a prison sentence of up to five years in Cameroon. “I keep thinking, won’t the police come and arrest everyone?” He said of meeting members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) community in Manchester.
“My friends always say to me, ‘Kiki, it’s cool in this country, relax.’ But I reply, “No, because sometimes the law says one thing and the police say another,” he told Reuters in a Skype interview from Manchester.
As LGBT rights advance in a number of countries around the world, Kiki is disappointed to see the strengthening of homophobic politics in his country. In the past few weeks he has published a case from Cameroon: Two transgender women were arrested in February for “attempted homosexuality” for wearing women’s clothes in a restaurant.
The two women, Loic Njeukam, a local social media celebrity named Shakiro and Roland Mouthe, better known as Patricia, spent more than two months in prison waiting for their trial to begin.
“Life in hell”
The court in the coastal city of Douala is expected to hear the allegations on Monday. A guilty verdict can mean up to five years in prison.
Loic and Roland’s experience in prison is “a life in hell,” according to their attorney Alice Nkom. They are enjoyed and threatened by prisoners and guards and are only safe if they pay for them, Alice said.
As of May 2020, 53 people have been arrested after attacks on HIV and AIDS organizations. Some reports have been beaten and forced to have anal tests to confirm allegations of homosexuality, Human Rights Watch said. The arrests are part of an “increase in police action” against sexual minorities, he added.
According to Kiki, the oppression of the LGBT community in Cameroon is a symptom of a larger problem that is ingrained in Cameroonian society. “Homophobia has to do with Cameroonians,” said Kiki. “When it comes to hating the LGBTQ community, they come together.”