We got our tickets for prison and it only cost 2000 Cameroonian Francs. That is around $4 USD. Not bad to get into jail. We go tomorrow (Sunday) to visit the LGBT prisoners who are in prison for being just who they are. There are 16 (suspected up to 25 in Douala and Yaounde) imprisoned (13 men, 3 women).
Let me say this again: they are in prison because they are gay. There are no circumstances that lead to their arrest: no petty theft, no mischief, no assault nor battery. Simply gay.
Now, moving along.
Our day started again at the conference. The afternoon session – sponsored by a South African LGBT organization – was fiery. Presenters spoke about rights for lesbian healthcare – so they can get basic reproductive healthcare without fear of being stigmatized, reported or refused. As was the case with the other presentations the interesting parts really hit the road during the Q & A portion.
A man, young, wearing a panama hat and brightly colored shirt stood up and took the mic. He asked the lesbian presenter: “How do you lesbians reproduce?”
I couldn’t tell if he was joking? Was he a plant? Was he with an LGBT organization that told him to ask an asinine question to prove how asinine Cameroonian LGBT law and policy really is?
I don’t know.
What I do know is the young woman answered very precisely, clearly: “Lesbians are not sterile. I think the conception is that we are sterile”. She went on to explain that like any other women, lesbians can choose to have children if they would like. That they do have the capacity to not only want children but to carry a child.
Next a doctor spoke – a woman. She told the gays that they didn’t need to all fancy flaunting who they are in public, but, when they come to her office seeking medical care they should be comfortable sharing absolutely everything about their health history, their lives, their sexuality.
The entire room moaned (How dare she? This is not true – we are not safe – this was the moan).
The next young man to ask a question made me sick. I wanted to get up and kick him in the neck.
Here’s the context behind his question: rape of lesbians as means of conversion. Raping lesbians will cure them of the qay. There was brief conversation about corrective rape at the end of the presentation. It was given short shrift, like most of the universe has decided there is no such thing as corrective rape.
Back to the young man’s question.
Actually, it wasn’t a question it was a statement.
You choose to be a lesbian you live with the consequences.
The question was completely ignored.
We left the conference – all of us.
Now, off to get our jail tickets. Jail tickets? This is what that means: we present our passport, guards at the Ministry of Justice slowly fill out a little bit of paperwork then take your 2000 francs and tell you come back in an hour.
(more later – we are conducting an Saturday afternoon workshop on advocacy – so you will have to come back in an hour or 12.)