Hervé, a 25-year-old Cameroonian man facing homosexuality charges, was set free on bail on April 13 after nine days in police custody.
His release was accomplished through the diligent work of LGBTI rights activists at Humanity First Cameroon and, in particular, the lawyers Michel Togue and Jatan Ndongo.
But both Hervé and the leaders of Humanity First remain in danger.
Hervé had been arrested by police from the Emombo district on April 4 after being entrapped by Wilfried Ella, a member of the presidential guard at the Ekounou station in Yaoundé.
Ella, who had received text messages from Hervé, lured him to a rendezvous on the pretext that Ella’s girlfriend had seen Hervé’s messages and needed to hear him assure her that Ella was not homosexual.
Under pressure from the intensely anti-gay police commander Jean Esso, Hervé was pushed to say that he had made advances to Ella and to disclose the names of officials at Humanity First, who were Esso’s primary target.
Hervé is free but his tribulations are far from over.
On his return home on April 13, his landlord told him he was being evicted.
The day after his release, he was called to appear at 7:30 a.m. at the trial court in Ekounou. At the hearing, his case was referred to May 12. During the hearing, he learned that the judge handling the case, Aurélie Tekam, is clearly homophobic. In open court, she did not hide her annoyance that Hervé had been released. She said he should have been kept in a cell.
Under Cameroonian law, homosexual activity is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Although the law as written only applies to people who are caught in the act of same-sex relations, in practice it is often used to penalize people for being homosexual, even without evidence of any sexual activity.