Peaceful celebration in Cameroon a year after mob attack

Published: May 30, 2013

Time: around 6 p.m., May 17. Location: The Bastos Roundabout residential area of Yaounde, where most embassies are located, within walking distance of the Presidential Palace.

Dressed in many colors, a group of young men and young women get out of a minibus.  Excited and happy, they dance, shout and run in all directions, waving a rainbow flag made especially for the occasion. Cameras flash. After a few minutes of dancing, the small group vanishes, leaving behind some balloons with LGBT-friendly messages written on them.  This unusual scene arouses the curiosity of some passersby, one of whom takes a few snapshots. Many other observers have little idea what’s going on.

“In a Cameroonian society that is increasingly hostile to the gay issue, we fear what would have happened if they had understood what it was about,” says protester Michel Engama, who is pleased that the event came and went without unpleasantness.

This was probably the first “Rainbow Flag Flash Mob” in the history of the LGBT movement in Cameroon. It was organized to mark International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) by three advocacy groups that promote the rights of sexual minorities — Humanity First Cameroon, the Cameroonian Foundation For Aids (Camfaids) and Affirmative Action.

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