YAOUNDE, Cameroon, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Reports that people suspected of being gay or lesbian in Cameroon were being harassed and arrested are troubling, the U.N. human rights office said Friday.
The country's penal code criminalizes sexual relations with a person of the same sex" and provides for a penalty or a fine and up to five years imprisonment -- and conflict with Cameroon's international human rights commitments and violates rights to privacy and to freedom from discrimination, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a release.
"While the penal code relates specifically to sexual conduct, we are seriously concerned that it is being applied in a broad-brush way to prosecute many individuals on the basis of their appearance, their mannerisms, style of speech or general conduct," OHCHR spokesman Rupert Colville said.
"It is especially worrying to receive reports of anonymous threats being made against human rights defenders working to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons," Colville said.
Cameroon has a duty to end the abuses and provide "adequate protection" to human rights defenders working to protect the rights of the gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender community, Colville said.
In addition, Cameroon should also use an ongoing review of its penal code to amend the pertinent article to comply with the country's international treaty obligations, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.