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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 February 2006, 12:26 GMT
Cameroon papers sued for 'outing'
Screen grab from anti-gay article in July 2004
This is not the first such campaign in Cameroon
A cabinet minister and two doctors in Cameroon are suing for defamation against two newspapers that claimed they were homosexual.

The papers - L'Anecdote and Nouvelles d'Afrique - have been "outing" top personalities in a campaign against what they say is "deviant behaviour".

Homosexual acts are banned in Cameroon, with up to five years in jail.

Last weekend, President Paul Biya criticised irresponsible journalists for printing stories based on rumour.

Such articles were an invasion of people's private lives, he said in a speech at the weekend.

Like much of Africa, Cameroon is a conservative society, where homosexuality is frowned upon.

But the BBC's Randy Joe Sa'ah in Yaounde says it is an open secret that homosexuality is alive in the country and that the law banning homosexual acts is rarely used.

'Proof'

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Gregoire Owona and two medical doctors, who have started defamation proceedings, were among some 50 people named in the papers as homosexual.

Communications Minister Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo, who is also on the list, has threatened legal action too.

Last week, the newspapers said they are waiting to defend themselves - and had proof of their allegations.

Our reporter says the two journalists who drew up the list were not present in court when the cases were listed. The trials begin on 21 February.

The campaign, which proved so popular one newspaper had to have extra print runs, has sparked a national debate about gay rights and privacy.

Last year, lobby group Human Rights Watch condemned the practice of forced anal examinations of those arrested on charges of having gay sex.


SEE ALSO:
Zanzibar imams halt gay wedding
13 May 05 |  Africa
Fine for Ugandan radio gay show
03 Oct 04 |  Africa
Country profile: Cameroon
04 Feb 06 |  Country profiles


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