Honoring Slain Cameroonian LGBTI Activist

Last night at Third Presbyterian Church, Rochester, NY after the premiere screening of “God Loves Uganda,” the documentary exposing the export of homophobia by religious conservatives in the US to Africa, a moment of silence and prayers for the family and friends of Eric Ohena Lembembe was offered at Third Presbyterian Church, a welcoming and affirming More Light congregation in Rochester, NY. Eric Lembembe was tortured and killed in what his friends believe to be an anti-gay hate crime in his country of Cameroon. Eric Lembembe was a journalist, activist for LGBTI equality and Director of the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS. His death was discovered by friends and reported by Human Rights Watch on July 15.

The God Loves Uganda film shows the funeral of David Kato, the prominent LGBTI activist in Uganda, who was killed after anti-gay threats had been made against his life. “Sadly, the death of Eric Lemembe teaches us once again of the direct connection between the export of homophobia from the United States by religious conservatives and its deadly results in Africa and around the world. As Christians and American citizens we cannot be silent, we are called to expose this distortion of Christianity and to teach the truth of God’s creation and love of all of God’s children including God’s LGBT children,” Michael J. Adee, Director, Global Faith and Justice Project, Horizons Foundation and former Executive Director, More Light Presbyterians.

From the Washington 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.

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.”

“Eric was an inspiring activist whose work was deeply appreciated by human rights activists in Cameroon and around the world,” said HRW senior LGBT rights researcher Neela Ghoshal.

Lembembe is the most high-profile African gay rights activist to be killed since 2011, a year that saw the deaths of Uganda’s David Kato and South African lesbian activist Noxolo Nogwaza.

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