A posed portrait of the older sister of LGBT Activist and Journalist Eric Lembembe (in the picture she is holding), Ndongo Alice, 37, at home in Yaounde. Eric and Alice were very close when they were growing up. There was gossip in the family about his sexuality but Eric was never open about being gay. Eric was an outspoken campaigner for LGBT rights in Cameroon though and critical of state sponsored discrimination. Eric was murdered on the weekend of July 15/16, 2013. Eric had been brutally tortured. His legs, arms, and neck were broken. He had burns on his body from an iron.  The corners of his mouth were sliced, his eyes had been gouged out, as had his tongue. Before his death Eric had told his sister, Alice, that he had many problems but he refused to share them with her. After his death Alice found out he had been threatened many times. After his death she also received threats. One SMS said “You will die like your fag brother”.  Eric’s death has profoundly affected the family: “By loosing Eric we have also lost our mother. She has changed completely, her health, everything. And I feel really lonely without him. He was really helping me.” Eric’s killer/s have never been caught. Yaounde, Cameroon. December 2014.  While many countries around the world are legally recognizing same-sex relationships, individuals in nearly 80 countries face criminal sanctions for private consensual relations with another adult of the same sex. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression is even more widespread. Africa is becoming the worst continent for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Inter-sex (LGBTQI) individuals. More than two thirds of African countries have laws criminalizing consensual same-sex acts. In some, homosexuality is punishable by death. In Nigeria new homophobic laws introduced in 2013 led to dramatic increase in attacks. Under Sharia Law, homosexuality is punishable by death, up to 50 lashes and six months in prison for woman; for men elsewhere, up to 14 years in prison. Same sex acts are illegal in Uganda. A discriminatory law was passed then struck down and homophobic attacks rose tenfold after the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. In Cameroon it is also illegal. More cases against suspected homosexuals are brought here than any other African country. In stark contrast with the rest of the continent, same sex relationships are legal in South Africa. The country has the most liberal laws toward gays and lesbians on the continent, with a constitution guaranteeing LBGTQI rights. Because of this, LGBTQI Africans from all over the continent fleeing persecution have come to South Africa. Despite these laws, many lesbians have been victims of ‘corrective rape’ and homosexuals have been murdered for their sexuality. Homophobia is by no means just an African problem. In Russia, politicians spread intolerance. In June 2013 the country passed a law making “propaganda” about “non-traditional sexual relationships” a crime. Attacks against gays rose. Videos of gay men being tortured have been posted online. In predominantly Muslim Malaysia, law currently provides for whipping and up to a 20-year prison sentence for homosexual acts involving either men or women. Increased extreme Islamification in the Middle East is making life more dangerous for gay men there, as evidenced by ISIS’s recent murders of homosexual men. While homophobic discrimination is widespread in Lebanon, life is much safer there than Iran, Iraq, and Syria from which refugees are fleeing due to homophobic persecution. Photo Robin Hammond/Panos for Witness Change

Alice & Eric/


“The death of Eric (little brother) is a death in our family, it also killed our mother because since the tragedy, the poor woman developed hypotension. We are left to ourselves (brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces). Imagine a pillar of the family goes without farewell or a trace, words cannot express the pain that I carry in my heart, how can we console our mother? What can we say to the children?”

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stefano

Stefano/

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“Cameroonian mother and a Congolese stepfather my parents divorced when I was three and grew up with my catholic mother african Culture and catholism together is the worSt comBination when that you grow up you know you like men also. Years have passed while growing up I was beaten because i had certain tendencies that a boy was not meant to have”

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A posed portrait of 37 year old Yves Serges.  Early one morning in January 2011, Yves Serge was asleep in his room. He was awoken by the voice of his cousin. He looked out the window to see his cousin surrounded by around 15 men. He was crying. Yves opened the door, when he did so the men rushed inside. They dragged him out, put him on the back of a motorbike and drove into the night. He had no idea where his kidnappers were taking him. They stopped at a cross-road, pulled him off the bike, stripped him, and started beating him all over his body with planks of wood. He was forced to sit on an empty beer bottle so that it entered his rectum. They continued to beat him. They started interrogating him, “you are a faggot, tell us who you have sex with and where we can find them?” Yves refused to answer. The kidnappers piled three large truck tires and made Yves to go inside of them. They came up to the height of his chest. They took petrol from their motorbikes and poured it over his head and body. They wanted to burn Yves alive. At that moment, people from Yves neighborhood arrived. The details of what happened next are not clear to Yves, he was semi-conscious and overwhelmed by fear. He does know though that some of his family members saved him from the lynching. While Yves has recovered physically, the experience has left him deeply traumatized. He is constantly reminded of the night, he is deeply afraid of the return of his kidnappers and has difficulty making relationships now. Douala, Cameroon. December 2014.  While many countries around the world are legally recognizing same-sex relationships, individuals in nearly 80 countries face criminal sanctions for private consensual relations with another adult of the same sex. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression is even more widespread. Africa is becoming the worst continent for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Inter-sex (LGBTQI) individuals. More than two thirds of African countries have laws criminalizing consensual same-sex acts. In some, homosexuality is punishable by death. In Nigeria new homophobic laws introduced in 2013 led to dramatic increase in attacks. Under Sharia Law, homosexuality is punishable by death, up to 50 lashes and six months in prison for woman; for men elsewhere, up to 14 years in prison. Same sex acts are illegal in Uganda. A discriminatory law was passed then struck down and homophobic attacks rose tenfold after the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. In Cameroon it is also illegal. More cases against suspected homosexuals are brought here than any other African country. In stark contrast with the rest of the continent, same sex relationships are legal in South Africa. The country has the most liberal laws toward gays and lesbians on the continent, with a constitution guaranteeing LBGTQI rights. Because of this, LGBTQI Africans from all over the continent fleeing persecution have come to South Africa. Despite these laws, many lesbians have been victims of ‘corrective rape’ and homosexuals have been murdered for their sexuality. Homophobia is by no means just an African problem. In Russia, politicians spread intolerance. In June 2013 the country passed a law making “propaganda” about “non-traditional sexual relationships” a crime. Attacks against gays rose. Videos of gay men being tortured have been posted online. In predominantly Muslim Malaysia, law currently provides for whipping and up to a 20-year prison sentence for homosexual acts involving either men or women. Increased extreme Islamification in the Middle East is making life more dangerous for gay men there, as evidenced by ISIS’s recent murders of homosexual men. While homophobic discrimination is widespread in Lebanon, life is much safer there than Iran, Iraq, and Syria from which refugees are fleeing due to homophobic persecution. Photo Robin Hammond/Panos for Witness Change

Yves Serges/


“they judged it was time to take the next step which was to burn me alive in big trucks wheels that were in this intersection, no sooner said than done, that’s when I found myself in these wheels naked, they removed the fuel from a motorcycle and poured it on me.”

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A posed portrait of 41 year old Marc Lambert Lamba. In May 2005 Marc was arrested at a bar in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde along with nearly 40 others. Many were able to bribe their way out of the police station, the remaining 11, of which Lambert was one, were put in prison. They spent 12 months awaiting trial. In the end seven of the 11 were charged with the crime of homosexuality and sentenced to seven months in prison. They had already served their time awaiting trial so were released. Lambert says,  “it was a nightmare for me but I transformed this nightmare into an opportunity – it gave me the chance to denounce to the international community the situation of discrimination against people in my country for their sexual orientation or gender identity. Thanks to that a LGBT movement was born in Cameroon”. Lambert took the Cameroonian Government to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at The United Nations and won his case. The Cameroonian Government ignored the verdict. Yaounde, Cameroon. December 2014.  While many countries around the world are legally recognizing same-sex relationships, individuals in nearly 80 countries face criminal sanctions for private consensual relations with another adult of the same sex. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression is even more widespread. Africa is becoming the worst continent for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Inter-sex (LGBTQI) individuals. More than two thirds of African countries have laws criminalizing consensual same-sex acts. In some, homosexuality is punishable by death. In Nigeria new homophobic laws introduced in 2013 led to dramatic increase in attacks. Under Sharia Law, homosexuality is punishable by death, up to 50 lashes and six months in prison for woman; for men elsewhere, up to 14 years in prison. Same sex acts are illegal in Uganda. A discriminatory law was passed then struck down and homophobic attacks rose tenfold after the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. In Cameroon it is also illegal. More cases against suspected homosexuals are brought here than any other African country. In stark contrast with the rest of the continent, same sex relationships are legal in South Africa. The country has the most liberal laws toward gays and lesbians on the continent, with a constitution guaranteeing LBGTQI rights. Because of this, LGBTQI Africans from all over the continent fleeing persecution have come to South Africa. Despite these laws, many lesbians have been victims of ‘corrective rape’ and homosexuals have been murdered for their sexuality. Homophobia is by no means just an African problem. In Russia, politicians spread intolerance. In June 2013 the country passed a law making “propaganda” about “non-traditional sexual relationships” a crime. Attacks against gays rose. Videos of gay men being tortured have been posted online. In predominantly Muslim Malaysia, law currently provides for whipping and up to a 20-year prison sentence for homosexual acts involving either men or women. Increased extreme Islamification in the Middle East is making life more dangerous for gay men there, as evidenced by ISIS’s recent murders of homosexual men. While homophobic discrimination is widespread in Lebanon, life is much safer there than Iran, Iraq, and Syria from which refugees are fleeing due to homophobic persecution. Photo Robin Hammond/Panos for Witness Change

Lambert/


“My arrest and my incarceration was a real nightmare for me and for my life. Since that day, humiliation, shame, contempt, insults and other evils are part of my daily life. Even after my release, my situation has turned into torment in my family, the neighborhood, at work. I do not participate in any family events (death, marriage, meetings…) nor in the neighborhood.”

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A posed portrait of 25 year old Brice. In 2012 Brice was living with his mother. One evening, his mother arrived home from work and said angrily to him, “They just called me and told me that you are gay! Is that true?” Brice did not reply. His brother, who knew he was gay confirmed it to his mother. That same day his mother took him to an evangelist to “deliver you from the spirit of homosexuality.” He was brought by the Pastor in front of the entire congregation “to be delivered.” “Spirit of homosexuality come out of this boy!” the Pastor said, and pushed him to the ground. As he fell down the Pastor cried “thanks to the Lord – he is delivered”. To keep his mother happy Brice went along with the performance. When he returned home with his mother, she asked him “Do you feel free?” he told her that nothing had changed, the performance, to him, felt like a scene from a movie. The next day she took him to a Catholic Priest. There, the priest accused Brice of being a devil. Brice got angry and left. The priest told Brice’s mother that they needed to pray together. His mother continued to pressure him, in the name of God, to change. No amount of prayer changed Brice’s sexuality. His mother gave up and said “You have to choose – either change or leave!” Brice didn’t consider this a choice he could make. He always knew he was Gay. He felt he had no choice but to leave. “Since you have chosen to be gay, never contact me again!” His mother said. Brice has not spoken to her since. “I’m no longer close to my mother or some of my sisters. Maybe this is the price I have to pay for being gay”. Yaounde, Cameroon. December 2014.  While many countries around the world are legally recognizing same-sex relationships, individuals in nearly 80 countries face criminal sanctions for private consensual relations with another adult of the same sex. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression is even more widespread. Africa is becoming the worst continent for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Inter-sex (LGBTQI) individuals. More than two thirds of African countries have laws criminalizing consensual same-sex acts. In some, homosexuality is punishable by death. In Nigeria new homophobic laws introduced in 2013 led to dramatic increase in attacks. Under Sharia Law, homosexuality is punishable by death, up to 50 lashes and six months in prison for woman; for men elsewhere, up to 14 years in prison. Same sex acts are illegal in Uganda. A discriminatory law was passed then struck down and homophobic attacks rose tenfold after the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. In Cameroon it is also illegal. More cases against suspected homosexuals are brought here than any other African country. In stark contrast with the rest of the continent, same sex relationships are legal in South Africa. The country has the most liberal laws toward gays and lesbians on the continent, with a constitution guaranteeing LBGTQI rights. Because of this, LGBTQI Africans from all over the continent fleeing persecution have come to South Africa. Despite these laws, many lesbians have been victims of ‘corrective rape’ and homosexuals have been murdered for their sexuality. Homophobia is by no means just an African problem. In Russia, politicians spread intolerance. In June 2013 the country passed a law making “propaganda” about “non-traditional sexual relationships” a crime. Attacks against gays rose. Videos of gay men being tortured have been posted online. In predominantly Muslim Malaysia, law currently provides for whipping and up to a 20-year prison sentence for homosexual acts involving either men or women. Increased extreme Islamification in the Middle East is making life more dangerous for gay men there, as evidenced by ISIS’s recent murders of homosexual men. While homophobic discrimination is widespread in Lebanon, life is much safer there than Iran, Iraq, and Syria from which refugees are fleeing due to homophobic persecution. Photo Robin Hammond/Panos for Witness Change

Brice/


“God made no gay but if a man accepts himself as gay he is a devil” the priest told Brice before he prayed over him to “cure” him of his “disease.”

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