A football player in Cameroon has been turned away from every team due to the fact that she is gay.
Under the pseudonym of Stenie, the 18 year-old athlete spoke to Gay Star News about her experience of discrimination from the football clubs of her home country:
Two years ago she played professionally with a club in Yaoundé, however, after receiving pressure from the public who objected to the woman’s sexuality, the club fired her.
Stenie told Gay Star News about how both her gender and sexuality stood in the way of her athletic pursuits:
“I decided to pursue a career in football even though I knew that people in Cameroon discriminate against female football players on the assumption that they are all lesbians.
“In 2013, I decided to join a club to start a football career and to fulfil my dream of becoming a professional football player. I played for five years. Two years ago, I became a professional at Intersport football club.
“At first, it was really hard. I endured insults and discrimination. Team members called me a ‘rug muncher’. Others pejoratively called me ‘father’.”
Stenie describes an incident in which two men attacked her after a match:
“I barely escaped from two men who jumped me from the bushes on the way home. I was able to get out of that mess only because passersby heard my cries and intervened.”
Despite her talent, Intersport told Stenie that she could no longer play with the club:
“They said that the club’s success was in jeopardy because of public and anti-gay judgements about me.”
A teammate then told Stenie that management had declared her permanently barred from the team. The football player reported the discrimination to Cameroon’s National Football Federation, who dismissed the case in support of the club’s decision:
“They also rejected me, merely saying that they do not support homosexuality.”
“I tried to join another club, but was turned down again. I learned that the federation had decided that I could no longer play for any club in Cameroon because of my sexual orientation.”
Cameroon is one of the 33 African countries where same-sex relations are criminalised. LGBT+ people can face up to a five-year prison sentence. Additionally, there have been numerous reports of violent conversion therapy tactics within the country, including the “corrective rape” of LGBT+ people. Humanity First Cameroon, an LGBT+ organisation, found that one in five lesbians and one in ten gay men had been raped in Cameroon in 2018.
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