Cameroon opposes French LGBT+ rights ambassador’s visit

YAOUNDE (Reuters) – Cameroon’s government is seeking to block France’s LGBT+ rights ambassador from travelling to the country to hold a conference on gender and sexual identity, saying the discussion topics breach anti-homosexuality legislation.

Ambassador Jean-Marc Berthon is scheduled to visit the central African nation from June 27 to July 1 for the event, which would be hosted by the French institute in the capital Yaounde.

The government sent a diplomatic notice to the French ambassador in Cameroon to signal its opposition to Berthon’s visit, according to an internal letter seen by Reuters.

The notice, sent on Monday, informs the French embassy that the government is opposed to all of Berthon’s planned activities, including the proposed conference.

The French embassy did not respond to several requests for comment on Wednesday.

Only 22 out of 54 African countries allow homosexuality. In Cameroon, same-sex relations can lead to jail terms of up to five years.

Abuse towards the country’s LGBT+ community is on the rise, including violent attacks and arbitrary arrests, according to Human Rights Watch.

Berthon’s planned trip to Cameroon comes weeks after Uganda enacted one of the world’s strictest anti-LGBTQ bills, including provision for long jail terms and the death penalty.

(Reporting by Amindeh Blaise Atabong; Editing by Sofia Christensen and Mark Potter)