John M. Becker

Cameroon Lawyer Alice Nkom Honored for LGBT Rights Work

Filed By John M. Becker | March 24, 2014 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Africa, Alice Nkom, Amnesty International, anti-gay laws, anti-gay legislation, Cameroon, Catholic attacks on LGBT rights, Catholic Church, sodomy law, Uganda, west Africa

Alice-Nkom-2.jpgAlice Nkom, the foremost legal advocate for the LGBT community in the west-central African nation of Cameroon, was honored with Amnesty International's 2014 Human Rights Award last week for her courageous work.

BBC reports:

Ms. Nkom described the award, which she received from the German branch of Amnesty International in Berlin on Tuesday, as a "prize of hope".

"Being gay in Cameroon is like being in hell," she told the BBC's Newsday program me. "Permanent jail, permanent harassment, permanent violence and discrimination. From your family to the workplace to everywhere."...

She vowed to continue her work despite being sent death threats and warnings from government officials that she could face imprisonment.

The 69-year-old Nkom figures prominently in the 2013 documentary Born This Way, which chronicles the plight of LGBT people in Cameroon. In the film, she explains why she does the work she does, even in the face of such grave threats:

"I wanted to add this human rights dimension to my work because I'm just like a mother. When you have two kids who are different and one of them is vulnerable, you have to take care. You have to love them. You have to help them."

This is what courage looks like, folks.

At a screening for Born This Way last year in Washington, D.C., Nkom told the audience that, in Cameroon, like in Uganda, the government uses homosexuality as a smokescreen to distract the public from more pressing problems, including its own failings. She also said that the Catholic Church teams up with the government to whip up anti-gay sentiment.

Watch the trailer for Born This Way, after the jump.


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