The Nation | Lambert, who died on August 4, was a pioneering LGBT activist who was there to help—even after foreign support dried up.
He emerged as the group’s de facto leader almost immediately after they were taken into custody.
It was May 2005, and Marc Lambert Lamba and 10 other men had been arrested in a Sunday evening raid on the Victoire, a gay-friendly bar in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon. The Central African country has criminalized same-sex sexual acts since the 1970s, yet for many years officials had rarely enforced the law. The Victoire raid was a complete surprise. It marked a turning point for a society that had previously allowed sexual minorities to go about their lives unbothered, provided they stayed in the shadows.
In the weeks and months that followed, Lambert and the others endured a host of abuses. They were paraded before television cameras and denounced as members of a “homosexual gang.” They were held for nearly a year without trial in notorious Kondengui prison, where they were denied proper food and faced routine violence from other inmates. Seven of them were convicted and sentenced to 10 months in prison (the other four were acquitted or had their cases thrown out). And when they were all finally released in mid-2006, they were largely left to their own devices as they sought to rebuild their lives and reputations.Continue reading here…