Alice Nkom has spent the last decade defending gays and lesbians in the west African country of Cameroon. Nkom compares the current environment of the country to “anti-homosexual apartheid”.
“When a country uses weapons, the police and all available legal and prison means against a section of its population, while it has a commitment to protect,” it is apartheid, Nkom told AFP in an interview in Berlin.
Homosexuality in Cameroon is illegal and comes with a 5 year prison sentence.
Nkom also doesn’t feel the idea of homophobia is solely an African problem. She cites Nelson Mandela’s legacy and says that the continent’s values are anchored in non-discrimination.
She urged Western countries to stand firm in challenging African discrimination against gays.
“Europeans are wrong to get intimidated when Africans say to them ‘don’t interfere’ or ‘it’s you who brought us that’,” she said, referring to critics who claim that homosexuality is a Western import.
She pointed in particular to Uganda where President Yoweri Museveni last month signed a bill under which “repeat homosexuals” are jailed for life, “promotion” of homosexuality is banned and people are required to report homosexuals.
“You cannot let him carry out such a barbarity on a section of his people without saying anything,” Nkom said, calling for sanctions against Museveni and his family, including a visa ban for foreign travel.
For her work in LGBT rights, Nkom will received a human rights prize from the German branch of Amnesty International in Berlin today.