18 July 2013

Cameroon: UNAIDS Urges Investigation Into Death of Gay Rights Activist in Cameroon

The United Nations agency leading the response to HIV/AIDS has condemned the killing of an outspoken activist for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Cameroon, and called on the Government to thoroughly investigate his death.

Eric Ohena Lembembe was the Executive Director of the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS. He was reportedly found dead in his apartment in the capital of Yaoundé, soon after he wrote about attacks in the country on organizations that support homosexuals, according to the non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch.

"Mr. Lembembe was an important partner in the AIDS response," the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said in a statement, calling on the Government to pursue a thorough investigation into the killing.

UNAIDS added that it remains gravely concerned about numerous reports of violence and death threats against LGBTI people in Cameroon.

"UNAIDS urges the Government to send a clear message that violence, homophobic and discriminatory acts will not be tolerated," it stated.

"It is unacceptable that in many countries people are subject to violence or the threat of violence because of their sexual orientation or perceived HIV status. Respect for human rights is essential in ensuring that all people have access to HIV services."

UNAIDS and the Joint UN team on AIDS in Cameroon worked closely with Mr. Lembembe and his organization on human rights issues and on ensuring access to HIV prevention services for key populations.

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