Two transgender women in Cameroon have been sentenced to five years in jail for contravening homosexuality laws.
One of the jailed is trans celebrity Shakiro, a YouTuber who highlights the problems Cameroon’s banned LGBT community faces and her friend Patricia, both have been in detention since February after their arrest at a restaurant.
Their lawyers say they were found guilty of “attempting homosexuality” as well as outraging public decency and problems with their ID cards.
“It’s a hammer blow. It’s the maximum term outlined in the law. The message is clear: homosexuals don’t have a place in Cameroon,” one of their lawyers, Alice Nkom, who heads the Association for the Defence of Rights of Homosexuals told the media.
Their other lawyer, Richard Tamfu, says the pair will appeal against the verdict as there is no proof that homosexual acts were committed, just suspicion.
The court in the city of Douala also fined Shakira and Patricia 200,000 CFA francs each. If the two are unable to raise the money to pay the penalties, they will face another 12 months in prison on top of their five-year sentence.
Cameroon is one of 31 African countries that criminalises gay sex. In 2016 Cameroon strengthened its anti-homosexuality laws, changing the penal code to explicitly outlaw same-sex sexual relationships.