Cameroon in 'first' lesbian charges

Women holding hands Homosexual acts are banned in many African countries

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Three women in Cameroon have been charged with practising homosexuality, in what is believed to be the first such case in the country, a local reporter tells the BBC.

The case, allegedly involving a lesbian love triangle, came to court on Monday, but has only been reported nationally now due to the remoteness of the area.

Homosexual acts are punishable by up to five years in prison.

The BBC's Randy Joe Sa'ah says it the first known case involving women.

Our reporter, based in the capital, Yaounde, says it is not that common for men to be taken to court over homosexual acts - but last year four men were convicted on such charges.

Homophobia is widespread in Cameroon, he says.

Husband goes to police

Roger Takala, a journalist based in Ambam, about 220km (135 miles) south of Yaounde, told the BBC that crowds packed into the court to hear the charges against the women.

He said the women were arrested in the town, on Cameroon's border with Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, last week following a quarrel between two alleged lesbian lovers.

One partner accused the other of infidelity with a married woman.

The argument escalated and the husband of the married woman was told of the affair.

He reported the incident to the police.

The case has been adjourned until 8 March 2012.

Homosexual acts are banned in most African countries.

In Liberia, in West Africa, a senate committee is currently debating a proposal to tighten laws banning same-sex relationships.

While in Uganda, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, increasing punishments for homosexual offences, was recently reintroduced to parliament.

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