A transgender woman sentenced for “attempted homosexuality” in Cameroon has joined Belgium

Shakiro, a Cameroonian transgender woman, sentenced to 5 years in prison in 2021 in Cameroon and still under legal proceedings, arrived in Belgium where she obtained a visa after an exile in Nigeria, announced her lawyer to the AFP.

Very popular on social networks in Cameroon, Shakiro was arrested in February 2021 in Douala, the economic capital of the country, before being notably found guilty of “attempted homosexuality”.

She had been sentenced to 5 years in prison in May 2021 in a first instance judgment: the heaviest sentence provided for by Cameroonian law against homosexual practices. She had appealed against this judgment before being released on bail in mid-July of the same year.

Victim of an attack “of great brutality”

In August 2021, she was the victim of “an assault of great brutality” committed by “a violent group” in the company of another transgender woman in Douala, reported the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW). “The attackers pulled them by force from a taxi, insulted them and threatened them with death, and beat them for about 30 minutes before fleeing when the gendarmes arrived,” the NGO reported then, calling on the authorities to “repeal the anti-homosexuality law”.

Shakiro had left the country in the direction of neighboring Nigeria shortly after this aggression, indicated to AFP, Alexandre Marcel, president of the Idaho France committee, an association of assistance to LGBT people, welcoming a “combat journey”.

Journey to Belgium

“She was granted asylum in Belgium and left Lagos for Brussels with the utmost discretion,” confirmed her lawyer, Maitre Alice Nkom. It was from Nigeria that she “obtained a humanitarian visa” to go to Belgium, said Marcel.

Asked about the ongoing proceedings, the Cameroonian authorities did not respond immediately, but Me Nkom confirmed that his client was still awaiting the outcome of her trial before the Douala Court of Appeal.

Homosexuality is harshly repressed in Cameroon, the law providing for sentences ranging from 6 months to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to 200,000 FCFA (304 euros, editor’s note) for anyone who has sex with a person of the same sex.

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