Cameroonian trans women jailed for 'homosexuality'

Two transgender women in Cameroon were sentenced on Tuesday for “attempted homosexuality," according to their lawyers.

The two women were arrested earlier this year for the clothes they wore in a restaurant.

Aside from “attempted homosexuality,” they were convicted of public indecency and failing to carry ID cards.

The two received the maximum sentence, five years in prison and a fine.

Lawyer Alice Nkom said their detention is part of a worrying trend, and said the decision was a political one. She vowed to appeal the verdict.

"The state considers them worse than robbers and Cameroon's national assembly, the parliament, makes laws to say that if you are homosexual you have to go to prison… if you are homosexual, or deemed as such or suspected, you aren’t given a place in society."

A government spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cameroon is one of more than 30 African countries where same-sex relations are illegal.

Blanche Bailey is a transgender woman who lives in the country’s largest city, Douala.

She says the arrests in her community have made her fear for her own livelihood.

"Since the arrests, I am afraid. I can't lie to you. They say that they will arrest other trans people. I wanted to go and visit them in prison, but I was afraid because it could be said that I am her accomplice."

Human rights Watch said 53 people have been arrested in raids on HIV and AIDS organisations since May last year.

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