CRIMINALIZATION OF SAME-SEX RELATIONS IN CAMEROON: APPRAISAL FROM GROUP RIGHTS PERSPECTIVE
Cameroon’s anti-homosexual law has put the country on the spotlight for wrong reasons. The country has been criticized by human rights groups for its treatment of sexual minorities. Mostly based on a liberal paradigm that emphasizes individual claims, the criticisms argue that the anti-homosexuality law is inconsistent with the enjoyment of some rights and freedoms, notably equality, non-discrimination and freedom of expression. By analyzing the relevant domestic and international laws and reviewing selected literatures, this article opines that the conventional position which frowns at the anti-homosexuality law is undermined in Cameroon where criminalization of homosexuality also enforces moral and cultural values. Consequently, within the context of the Constitution of Cameroon, as read alongside international laws, the offence involves competing categories of rights. Though it is inconsistent with some individual rights, it conversely protects group rights which inevitably leads to rights prioritization in the country. This article argues that resistance against decriminalization of same-sex relations is informed by the desire to protect the family, health and moral of society and to reinforce duties owed by individuals to society. To mitigate the tension between individual and group rights inherent in Cameroon’s anti-homosexuality law, this article recommends a limited moratorium on prosecutions of homosexuals provided that they are discreet about their sexual orientation. Any attempt at decriminalizing homosexuality without ushering changes in the country’s communitarian values will rarely protect homosexuals from persecution and harassment.