Deadly Attacks on Gays: Cameroon LGBT Center Closed, May Re-Open

Berkeley, CA.  Vandals destroyed the offices of the LGBTQI service center—CAMEF—on December 22, 2013 leaving threats that the staff would be burned inside next.  Instead of seeking shelter and protecting themselves these young people want to reopen and to provide better services, including a rescue wagon and shelter for youth.  They are in the last 29 days of an INDIEGOGO campaign that so far has drawn only three donations of $275.  This campaign needs a huge infusion of goodness to help CAMEF come back.  Contribute here.

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CAMEF—opened in 2010—is still a group of stalwart young people—themselves LGBTQI– serving the dire needs of LGBTQI victims of abuse in Limbe, the coastal, English speaking section of Cameroon.  However, as neighboring countries in Africa are revving up anti-gay legislation and the violence is increasing, it is hard to find support for such services.  CAMEF is in the last 29 days of an Indiegogo campaign with only 3 donations totaling $275 of a $175,000 goal.  This is a plea to get the ball rolling to put CAMEF back in service still at the threat of losing their lives. See article at

CAMEF – The Cameroon Empowerment Association For Outreach Programs-Human Rights Defense Association—provided emergency care advocacy for victims of abuse on the streets, for  arrested—usually on false accusations—and tortured prisoners, HIV/AIDS education and prevention services, and promotion of LGBTQI rights in a country that has had homosexuality criminalized since the British, French, German empires brought their puritanical laws with them.  Unlike the recent African countries’ horror laws against homosexuality, Cameroon has been one of the worst countries in the world for homosexuals.  See article on CAMEF ‘s  closure here.

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Backers are ever increasingly reluctant to get involved in such upfront attention for LGBTQI needs.  The landlord has evicted CAMEF because of the vandals and the threats.  Obtaining rental space has become even more difficult.  Much of the base work of CAMEF has been by volunteers, another reason why carrying on will be difficult without any money to pay salaries.  One of the aspects making CAMEF’s work is that it serves the needs of sex workers.  Bad enough that homosexuality has the stigma of evil still preached by the major religions, but fighting for the rights of sex workers enters the realm of the unspeakable.  Yet the realities of sex work are ever present there and CAMEF insists on fighting for their rights.  They are even seeking membership in the regional and international sex worker coalitions.

Experts around the world are being strong in their support for funding such services as CAMEF if only for the threat to continued spread of HIV/AIDS.  A recent conference was held intentionally in Cameroon by a coalition of women’s groups and the St. Paul Foundation for International Reconciliation were speakers –wanting to get the ear of local religious authorities—spoke about the need for these services for all people, hetero and homo.  The former head of the Catholic church in Cameroon was one of the leading African clerics condemning homosexuals and the opinion of speakers at this conference was that such strident condemnations have to be held accountable for the crimes committed against LGBTQI people.  CAMEF wants to keep at this fight.

CAMEF wants to come back even better.  The plight of young people and women abused in back streets and neighborhoods is severe.  CAMEF wants to purchase a vehicle—rescue wagon—and to build a shelter for these youth.  This is one half the budget $86,000 being sought through INDIEGOGO.  Go to http://igg.me/at/CAMEF-HELP/x/541524 to contribute to this campaign.  A new center will prove to the immediate enemies that there is support for LGBTQI rights.  Such support will strengthen others not only in Cameroon but in Africa as things become utterly crazy with the new hate legislation.  It is clear that INDIEGOGO campaigns’ success depends on a close network to come up with 30% of the budget with the rest being brought in by people impressed with the dedication of the close network.  CAMEF like any other LGBTQI group in Africa has no such network.  It is the allies around the world who have to bring in the dollars.

As the world of supporters of LGBTQI people is becoming aware of the massive attacks on our rights in so much of Africa and elsewhere mainly due to the teachings of the various religions, people like myself have to stand up and be counted.  We have to do more than decry this deadly indecent mistreatment.  We have to do more than keep the pressure on the likes of religious leaders some of whom are now counseling even more than tolerance and even compassion.  We have to empower the least of our sisters and brothers in the most abject circumstances such as CAMEF in Cameroon.  My ordination as a Catholic priest 50 years ago and the slow process of determining the truth about sexual orientation—my own especially, same sex oriented—shows how vital it is for all of us concerned to step beyond the bounds of ordinary concern.

Please turn CAMEF’s INDIEGOGO campaign up to full blast!   http://igg.me/at/CAMEF-HELP/x/541524  Learn all you can by reading the blog Erasing76Crimes at http://76crimes.com.

By Tom Luce.

Mail Attachment

CAMEF
Cameroon Empowerment Association for Outreach Programs
Limbe-South West Region,BP 2186 Douala,Cameroun
Executive Director: Bill Simbo Tel. 237-74-07-64-65
FaceBook: Camef Cameroon  E-mail: camef.cameroon@gmail.com
Web: camef.weebly.com Twitter: @CamefCameroon

Tom Luce, CAMEF International Relations Consultant (volunteer)
Retired President of Human Rights Accompaniment In Haiti (hurah.org)
1515 Fairview St. Apt. C, Berkeley, Ca 94703 Tel. 510-229-3571
tomfluce@gmail.com
Twitter: @tomfluce

The Editors
The Stewardship Report on Connecting Goodness is the communications platform of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation (www.lucefoundation.org). There are now more than 100 contributors around the world to this publication.