The attack came during a gathering to mark the end of this year’s International Day Against Homophobia celebrations in the Cameroonian capital of Yaoundé.
The time — about 11 p.m., Saturday, May 19. Representatives of several LGBTI organizations march one by one to the podium to discuss what the week’s activities have meant to them.
Rounds of excited applause greet the speakers. The room heats up. It’s time to party. A fashion show, awards presentations, songs and dances are coming up.
Outside in the courtyard about 10 men from the Nkomo neighborhood gather, having caught word of what they call “a gathering of fags.”
“We must stop this,” they say. “We don’t want them here.”
The news spreads by word of mouth through the neighborhood. Their numbers grow. Around midnight, they burst into the room. One of them hits a board against the ground.
Inside, the party atmosphere vanishes. Everyone panics. Some people run behind the podium, looking for an emergency door. Others hide under tables. The organizers call out, trying to restore calm.
Some people get away. Others not. Some are caught and beaten by the gang of gay bashers.
“Nearly two dozen people who came to the party were nearly beaten to death,” says Yannick N, an organizer of the evening. “The abusers themselves said they wanted to do away with them.”
Some gay men at the gathering were robbed of money, mobile phones, jewelry, identification papers, etc. Others were seized, insulted, beaten and injured, Some victims were stripped naked and forced to return home without clothes.
Gay bashers pulled gay men from taxis. They pursued young men running several thousand meters away from the party.
None of the organizers called the police because they know from experience that the police would have arrested the gay victims of the beatings rather than the gay bashers.
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