Same-gender sexual activity — for both men and women — is illegal in Cameroon. It is punishable with a prison sentence of 6 months to 5 years and/or a fine of 200,000 CFA (approx. €300) and can go up to 8 years in jail if one of the offenders is 16-21 and the other is a minor under 16. No types of same-gender relationships are legally recognised, there are no anti-discrimination laws to protect the LGBTQIA+ community, and no right to change legal gender for transgender persons. Individuals are commonly arrested without evidence because of their real — or perceived — sexual orientation or gender identity. Online communication between individuals of the same-gender for the purpose of sexual proposition is a crime punishable by a 1–2-year prison sentence and/or a fine of 500,000 to 1,000,000 CFA (€760 – €1520).
Cameroon is a conservative society. LGBTQIA+ people face frequent stigmatisation and are under immense social pressure. The risk being detained, are exposed to physical abuse and are subject to degrading treatment such as anal examinations in the process of ‘proving’ same-gender sexual activity. The discriminatory ban on same-gender sexual conduct also creates inequity in access to HIV/AIDS treatments. There have also been reported cases of discrimination involving minors within the education system. Cis-women who do not dress in typically feminine attire, or who engage in conduct considered unfeminine, are often victims of persecution and can be targets for rape and sexual assault.
During the recent security crisis in Iraq, LGBTQIA+ individuals continue to face significant obstacles to safety. In 2009 and 2012, when militias and police sought out, apprehended, and killed LGBTQIA+ Iraqis, some Iraqi and international groups helped and get affected individuals to safety outside the country in Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon. They also escape to previously safer areas, such as Iraqi Kurdistan. Moreover, people of LGBTQIA+ communities often seek asylum in European countries where homosexuality and trans-identities are openly accepted. Compared to the hundreds of thousands of other Iraqis facing persecution and threats to their lives and livelihoods today, LGBTQIA+ Iraqis are at heightened risk both because of greater threats to them and because their ability to reach safety is reduced.