Prominent LGBT activist Eric Ohena Lembembe has been killed in Cameroon after being tortured, reportedly by “anti-gay thugs.” The headquarters of HIV services organization Alternatives-Cameroun was also burned down.
“Lembembe’s friends discovered his body on Monday evening after being unable to reach him by telephone for two days, and went to his home. They found his front door padlocked on the outside, but could see Lembembe’s body lying on his bed through the window,” Human Rights Watch LGBT rights researcher, Neela Ghoshal, first reported.
“Lembembe’s friends alerted the police, who broke down the door. According to one friend, Lembembe’s neck and feet appeared to have been broken, and his face, hands, and feet had been burned with an iron.”
Lembembe, along with Alternatives-Cameroun, were spotlighted in the documentary film Born This Way. The film showcased the work of LGBT advocates fighting for the LGBT community against religious leaders in Cameroon.
“Lembembe was one of Cameroon’s most prominent LGBTI rights activists. On behalf of CAMFAIDS, he collaborated closely with Human Rights Watch and two other Cameroonian organizations, Alternatives-Cameroun and the Association for the Defense of Homosexuals (ADEFHO), in researching and launching a March 2013 report on prosecutions for consensual same-sex conduct,” Ghoshal added.
“He also participated in drafting a submission for Cameroon’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in May 2013 at the United Nations Human Rights Council. Lembembe was also a contributor to the blog Erasing 76 Crimes and authored several chapters in a book on LGBTI rights around the world, From Wrongs to Gay Rights. His organization assiduously documented arrests, violence, and blackmail against LGBTI people in Cameroon.”
Known for being highly anti-gay, the African nation has recently been the site of massive violence against the gay community. LGBT advocates have been robbed, received death threats, and several LGBT establishments have been burned down. Authorities from Cameroon have turned a blind eye to the incidents even as the activists report them.
Ghoshal views the authoritative system as an “utter failure” and pleads for President Biya to “break his silence on the wave of homophobic violence in Cameroon and publicly condemn this brutal attack.”