Cameroon: 9 years in prison for gay sex; no witnesses

Published: November 21, 2013

 A Cameroon man was sentenced to nine years in prison yesterday (Nov. 20) on homosexuality-related charges.

 
The sentence imposed on Cornelius Fonya, 35, in the coastal city of Limbe was extraordinary even for violently anti-gay Cameroon, since the legal maximum sentence for same-sex relations is five years.
 
LGBT rights activists from Limbe-based CAMEF (the Cameroon Empowerment Association for Outreach Programs) said that:
 
-Fonya’s conviction was based on the original accusation, even though it was not supported by witnesses.
-Fonya had been accused of same-sex relations with a boy, age 14, but it was later proven that the youth was 19 years old, and legally an adult.
-The judge let the original charge stand, despite that proof, and based the prison sentence on the charge of sex with a minor.
-The family accused Fonya of rape, but the relations actually were consensual.
-The youth and his family, who made the accusation, never appeared in court and never  testified against Fonya.
 
Fonya has been incarcerated for more than a year, since Oct. 29, 2012, when a mob seized him, hauled him to the police station, and accused him of same-sex activity.
 
He has been held in prison since then, even though a judge said he could be released on bail. After Fonya posted money for bail, he was not released.
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