I was reading an opinion piece the other day about the tremendous investment opportunities to be had in some African nations, particularly Cameroon. Yes, investors, there is money to be made.
The article, though, didn’t mention Cameroon’s terrible human rights record when it comes to LGBT people. It didn’t mention that LGBT people “are viewed as criminals,” to quote a July 12 article on the Advocate.com site, that “Cameroon is one of 38 African countries that criminalize homosexuality,” that lesbians are often subjected to “corrective rape” by authorities, that both gay men and women are often brutalized in the prison system.
Invest in Cameroon? Not me.
But, I’m trying to be objective about this: Would investments from the West ultimately have beneficial effects for LGBT people in Cameroon, too? Would a better quality of life for the holier-than-thou heterosexuals make them more tolerant to LGBT people? Would my investment money help to bring equality for LGBT people in Cameroon?
Those are questions I would ask myself, if I were considering investing in Cameroon. Unfortunately, I don’t think investment money from the West will help the LGBT population in Cameroon. According to the Advocate.com article, homophobia is rampant in that country, with regular witch hunts for gay people. Just wearing the wrong shirt can get you accused of being gay and thrown in prison — “without ever being charged or tried.”
What about the media in Cameroon? What are they doing to advance equal rights for LGBT people? Well, nothing, really. Says Advocate.com: “Just as the government is armed with judges who fail to provide a fair trial, the Cameroonian media often fails to shed a fair light on this national problem because, Nkom says, the government controls the media. TV and radio stations are often fearful of the repercussions they might experience by publicizing what the nation considers “treasonous topics.” ”
So, am I willing to profit off a nation that persecutes people for their sexual orientation and gender identity? Not a chance. My social conscience would never permit that, just as I wouldn’t invest in a company that makes bombs.
But that’s just me. I’m not judging people who do invest in Cameroon or bombmakers. I’m not telling them not to invest. We all draw our own lines in life.
If you want to know more about Cameroon through the eyes of LGBT people, have a read of the article on the Advocate.com site.