YAOUNDE, Oct 25 – A Cameroon lawyer, known for defending gays and lesbians in a country where homosexuality is outlawed, said on Thursday he feared for the life of his family after receiving death threats, only days after similar threats were made to a colleague.
“I fear for my family and my children,” Michel Togue told AFP. “For two weeks we have been receiving death threats from unidentified people.”
Togue spoke after lawyer Alice Nkom said Tuesday that she had “become the victim of anonymous death threats” since October 18 and been “warned to stop defending homosexuals”.
Togue, who has reported the threats to the police, said they were made in telephone calls and text messages, first to the headmaster of the school of his oldest son, and then to his wife and himself.
His wife was asked in one call “which of her children she would sacrifice so her husband will give up defending homosexuals”, he said in an email to a human rights organisation of which AFP received a copy.
The caller knew the names of his four children, he added.
“Mr Togue, choose which child we shall turn into a queer like you. Then you will know what you are defending… Even white queers’ assistance will not save them.”
Nkom said Tuesday one such SMS read: “Lesbian whore, it’s your turn to suffer. Watch your back well as your security is very weak. We will give you a demonstration when the moment comes. No respite for gays in our country.”
Nkom said that the threats also targeted her children, but she vowed that they “cannot discourage me from my fight”.
In Cameroon same-sex relations between consenting adults are punishable with a maximum five years imprisonment.
The threats came amid intense media coverage of the trial of two Cameroonians, detained since November and sentenced to five years in prison each.
Two women are also standing trial for same-sex relations and a man was recently jailed for three years. Roger Jean-Claude Mbede’s appeal against his sentence is due to be heard on November 19.