Human rights defenders (HRDs) of sexual and gender minorities are key actors in the protection of rights and in promoting the rule of law and peace in Cameroon. Their freedom of expression, association and demonstration are hindered by a restrictive legislative framework (article 347 paragraph 1 of the Penal Code, and Law 83/013 on cyber […]
Human rights defenders (HRDs) of sexual and gender minorities are key actors in the protection of rights and in promoting the rule of law and peace in Cameroon. Their freedom of expression, association and demonstration are hindered by a restrictive legislative framework (article 347 paragraph 1 of the Penal Code, and Law 83/013 on cyber criminality), while they are also harassed, repressed and threatened because of their engagement.
Hitherto, LGBTQI+ HRDs at risk had little option but to request emergency support from international partners, such as Dignity for All and Frontline Defenders. Unfortunately, their requests were often denied because they could not provide tangible evidence of the situation. Even when they were accepted, the time needed to process and disburse the funds was too long to ensure an effective and timely response to address their situation.
To address this issue, the partners of the Power of Pride program in Cameroon have decided to implement a local emergency fund directly operated by Cameroonian LGBTIQ+ activists.
Funded by COC Nederland, this fund is hosted by the Unity platform (the national platform of the LGBTIQ+ organisations). It is named FULL (Fonds d’Urgence Lambert Lamba) in tribute to an emblematic figure of the LGBTIQ+ movement of Cameroon, and former President of the Unity platform, who passed away in 2019 . FULL aims to reinforce the protection of defenders with various profiles (such as lawyer-bloggers, influencers, activists, associative activists, etc.) who are victims of harassment so that they can pursue their work for human rights.
Created in 2021, the fund has provided immediate support to 11 HRDs, out of the twenty requests submitted to the fund’s special committee. This committee comprises representatives of the partners of the Power of Pride program. Their role is to examine requests and determine the best response in the shortest possible time. Responses included emergency relocation assistance for the HRDs’ safety, emergency medical support following assault and battery, securing their homes, legal aid to prosecute their attackers, etc.
Regrettably, with an annual budget of 10,000 euros, the FULL fund cannot meet the numerous and constant needs of assistance, which are the result of the Cameroonian social environment – annual reports on violence against LGBTIQ+ people show a constant increase of cases . To increase FULL’s reach and effectiveness, we need to seek additional funding. Renewed in 2022, the FULL is an innovative, proactive and effective tool designed by and for the LGBTIQ+ HRDs.
France 24 featured our partners’ work, and the following segment includes references to the Emergency Fund they established: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGI0rD58Mc8 (Only available in French)