Police disrupt Cameroon homosexuals seminar By BISONG ETAHOBEN in Yaounde | Wednesday, March 28   2012 at  19:38

Youths try to disrupt a gays meeting in Likoni, Mombasa Kenya. A similar fate befell a seminar to discuss homosexuals' rights in Cameroon. FILE | AFRICA REVIEW 

Twenty heavily-armed policemen raided the Mansel Hotel in Yaounde where a large crowd had gathered to discuss, among others, “the human rights of sexual minorities”.

Shouting; “...you applied for an authorisation to hold a meeting on the respect of persons living with HIV/Aids and I duly authorised it. However, the banners I see here now are talking of a seminar on the rights of sexual minorities. We don’t accept that here, so you go and do it elsewhere,” the Sub-Divisional Officer, Mr Martin Locko Motassi, ordered the police to tear down all the banners hanging on the walls and the entrance to the hotel.

Turning to Ms Alice Nkom, a senior member of the Cameroon Bar Association who has been on the forefront in the defence of homosexual rights, a man who said he was the president of an anti-homosexuality association, and who refused to give his name, declared: “Madam Nkom, you who know the law, you should know that in Cameroon, homosexuality is prohibited. God is seeing what you are doing now”.

An altercation ensued when Mr Motassi started advancing menacingly towards Ms Nkom.

Another woman seminar participant, sensing the administrator who was being followed by the police, might attack the lawyer, stepped in to block their way.

The seminar, which was supposed to last for three days till Thursday, was attended by representatives from the embassies of the US and Germany as well as members of the Association for the Defence of Homosexuals (ADEFHO).

It was organised by the Association of Adolescents Against HIV/Aids, popularly known by its French acronym Sid’Ado.

After a heated exchange between the administrator and the President of Sid’Ado, Mr Stéphane Koche, the latter was whisked away by the police as other security officers chased away seminar participants from the hall.

Ms Lisa Paterson, a Counsellor at the American Embassy in Yaounde, who was to represent her mission at the seminar, later said the disruption was a violation of human rights, adding that the seminar was aimed at educating vulnerable persons on their rights.

But Mr Motassi cut in saying Ms Paterson's claims were untrue.

Brandishing a letter of authorisation, a member of Sid’Ado told the Africa Review Wednesday morning that the seminar had been duly authorised, adding that in their application, they did mentioned several themes for discussion.