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Alice Nkom ( Lawyer)

Alice Nkom770
Name Nkom
Other Names Alice
Date of Birth1945-00-00
Place of Birth Putkak, Cameroon

Cameroon’s first ever female lawyer, Alice Nkom, is well known for her advocacy towards decriminalization of homosexuality in the country. Breaking on to the legal scene in 1969, at 24-years-old, she has been a leading civil rights and women’s rights activist ever since.

In the last decade or so she has become famous, or perhaps infamous depending on your viewpoint, for her defence of the LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, intersex and questioning) individuals and communities and their rights.

In February 2003, Nkom established The Association for the Defence of Homosexuals (its English name), which has suffered threats, attacks and intimidation. Nkom has received death threats, been imprisoned and has been threatened with being disbarred. Despite this she persists and returns to court again and again to fight for what she believes in.

To give you an idea on the extent of strict legislation imposed upon LGBTIQs in Cameroon, ten women were arrested on suspicion of being lesbians. No proof was given and no proof was needed. Men have been arrested and imprisoned for hairstyles and for drinking Bailey’s Irish Cream. According to Cameroon prosecution these crimes of fashion proved the men were feminine and thus gay and therefore worthy of incarceration.

In 2011, when her own arrest seemed imminent, Nkom wrote to leading Cameroonian LGBT activists: “Do not worry for me. I believe I will be arrested in the coming days, but I will not lose sleep over this or, especially, abandon what we have begun together.”

She has been rated as one of the most fascinating Africans in 2012 by a United States based Magazine "The New Yorker". This is what The New Yorker says of Alice Nkom: “It is rare enough to find vocal gay-rights advocates in West Africa, but the Cameroonian lawyer Alice Nkom takes it one step further: she has devoted her practice, the Association to Defend Homosexuals, to protecting L.G.B.T. citizens in a country where homosexual acts are illegal."

As a result, she has been repeatedly threatened with disbarment and arrest. (One Cameroonian lawyer went on local television with a Bible, advising that Nkom be put to death for promoting homosexuality.) Sixty-seven years old and grandmotherly looking, the lawyer called attention to an “anti-gay crackdown” last year in Cameroon, in which at least ten people had been arrested on charges of homosexuality, including one man who was sentenced to three years in prison for sending a text message to another man, and numerous incidents of homophobic violence. She refuses to close her practice. “Someone has to do this,” she says.