Just when we think we've taken a major leap ahead in LGBT rights in the world, we are confronted with the grim reality that being gay can still be a very dangerous thing.
This comes from an article on Huffington Post.
DAKAR, Senegal -- A prominent gay rights activist in Cameroon was tortured and killed just weeks after issuing a public warning about the threat posed by "anti-gay thugs," Human Rights Watch said.Lembembe was apparently very well known for his courageous activism in a very dangerous part of the world.
Friends discovered the body of Eric Ohena Lembembe at his home in the capital, Yaounde, on Monday evening after he was unreachable for two days, the rights group said in a statement Tuesday.
One friend said Lembembe's neck and feet looked broken and that he had been burned with an iron.
Lembembe was among the most prominent activists in one of Africa's most hostile countries for sexual minorities. First as a journalist and later as executive director of CAMFAIDS, a Yaounde-based human rights organization, he documented violence, blackmail and arrests targeting members of Cameroon's gay community. He was also a regular contributor to the Erasing 76 Crimes blog, which focuses on countries where homosexuality is illegal, and he wrote several chapters of a book released in February on the global gay rights movement titled "From Wrongs to Gay Rights."Human Rights Watch reports that simply being gay can garner an individual up to five years in prison in the sub-Saharan country of Cameroon.
Lembembe was instrumental in calling attention to these and similar human rights violations in his part of the world.
Just two weeks ago, Lembembe spoke out against a recent spate of break-ins at organizations advocating for gay rights in Cameroon.Friends of Lembembe became alarmed when he couldn't be contacted after missing a meeting, and when they got to his house, they found his battered body.
"There is no doubt: anti-gay thugs are targeting those who support equal rights on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity," Lembembe said in a statement on July 1. "Unfortunately, a climate of hatred and bigotry in Cameroon, which extends to high levels in government, reassures homophobes that they can get away with these crimes."
Though there is no solid evidence yet that he was killed as a result of his being gay, those who knew him said they knew of no other disputes he had with anyone else that would make him a likely target for the killing.
The concern is now that authorities may not be inclined to diligently follow up on the crime, since in most previous cases of this type, the investigation has never gone beyond the stage of "taking statements."
Obviously, our hearts go out to the friends and family of this remarkable man, who perhaps made the ultimate sacrifice so the world might be a better place for all who live in it.