DOUALA, 16 July 2021 – Two transgender women previously sentenced to five years in prison and fined for attempted homosexuality have been provisionally released.
The two transgender celebrities – Shakiro and her friend Patricia – were serving a second month in their five-year term in the New Bell Prison in Douala, Cameroon’s economic capital city when they were ordered freed.
Shakiro and Patricia will now appear free for the next hearings in their case before a Douala court of appeal.
No date has been fixed for the next hearing of their case, according to their lead counsel, Barrister Alice Nkom.
Thirty-one African countries, including Cameroon, criminalize gay sex and, in the case of Shakiro and Patricia, they were found guilty of attempting to engage in same-sex relationships.
It is unclear how Cameroon intends to deal with the fact that U.S. President Joseph R. Biden’s nominee ambassador to Cameroon is gay.
Human Rights Watch has documented the arrest, threats on and torture of at least 24 people since last February as part of an effort by Cameroonian authorities to attack lesbian, transgender, bisexual and gay partners.
Human rights groups say Cameroon’s prisons suffer from chronic overcrowding, poor sanitation conditions and disease, and cases of violence and torture are frequent.
New Bell Prison was built in the 1930s for 800 inmates, but held over 4,000 inmates as of 2020, according to reports by several human rights groups.