Nine persons in Cameroon, suspected of being homosexuals, have been arrested in the Western part. Two of the suspects are still in custody, a police officer and a lawyer told AFP on Thursday.

“We arrested them to check if they are homosexuals,” an officer in the town of Bafoussam, where the nine men were arrested said on condition of anonymity.

He said seven were freed and two are still in custody, adding that they will go to the prosecutor’s office probably on Friday. And their crime? Practicing homosexuality. The officer said one of them admitted that he was having relations with the other.

Alice Nkom, who defends the rights of LGBT people within the association ADEFHO, had previously indicated that seven of the nine persons were arrested Tuesday at the headquarters of the association, Colibri, whose main mission is to care for persons infected with HIV.

Mr. Nkom explained that the police “decided to search the headquarters of Colibri on the grounds that it is a homosexual association,’’ an assertion he denies.

Homosexual practices are prohibited in this Central African nation. The law provides for sentences ranging from six months to five years in prison and a fine of up to 200,000 FCFA or 300 euros against anyone who has sex with someone of the same sex.

Arrests for alleged homosexuals have dropped significantly in recent years in Cameroon, but they seem to be on the rise again recently, Mr. Nkom said.

On February 8, two transgender persons were arrested in Douala, the economic capital. They are still behind bars. Their trial, which began on February 10, is scheduled to resume on March 10.

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