Dominique Menoga: Fighting for Change in Cameroon
With the announcement of the 2015 David Kato Vision and Voice Award winner
coming up on February 13th at the renowned Teddy Awards in Berlin, we are
honored to introduce you to the 5 incredible people who have been shortlisted
for this year’s award.
Today, we are thrilled to present Dominque Menoga from Cameroon. Dominique has fearlessly campaigned for HIV
advocacy among sexual minorities, putting his life on the line and founding
multiple human rights organizations in his home of Cameroon. Dominique‘s
activism has made him into a target for violence and harassment many times - after
receiving numerous death threats he was forced to flee to France where he
continues his activism to this day.
Born in Yaoundé, Cameroon in 1982, Dominique recognized the
need for effective LGBTI advocacy after coming out to his parents as a teenager.
His experience of severe alienation as well as physical and emotional abuse
from his parents forced him to reflect on the ignorance surrounding LGBTI people.
Dominique quickly realized the need for
advocacy initiatives in Cameroon, and began mobilizing himself and his friends
around efforts to increase awareness and fight homophobia.
In 2006, after a spate of homophobic attacks in Cameroon, Dominique
and his friends galvanized to form Alternatives-Cameroon. Comprised of a team
of doctors, lawyers, and other healthcare providers who are also activists,
Alternatives-Cameroon aims to reduce the impact and spread of HIV among MSM, as
well as fight widespread homophobia in Cameroon.
During his time with Alternatives-Cameroon, Dominque provided meaningful
leadership as a peer educator, working with men who have sex with men (MSM) and
other LGBTI people to raise awareness on STI/HIV/AIDS testing, treatment, and
prevention. He also provided much-needed counseling for young sexual minorities
who often face rejection and discrimination from their families and peers –
something Dominique deeply identifies with. In this way Dominique shaped and
established one of the most accessible safe spaces for the LGBTI people of
Cameroon, allowing them to come together and find community in a country where
sexual minorities face intense homophobia and hostility.
Between 2008 and
2009, Dominique and friends created ADEPEV Association (Action for Development
and Fulfillment Vulnerable Persons). Dominique served as deputy head of ADEPEV,
where he organized and supervised his team.
In addition to its work against AIDS, ADEPEV established a legal section, which
deals primarily with conflicts within the gay community, and has launched
lobbying efforts at the national level. ADEPEV is now 100 members strong and
In November 2010, Dominique was selected to participate in two
different LGBTI human rights trainings. Informed and emboldened once these trainings
came to a close, he resigned from his position with ADEPEV and joined forces
with his best friend, the late activist Eric Lembembe, to form The Cameroonian
Foundation for AIDS (CAMFAIDS). Dominique acted as founding president of
CAMFAIDS, an organization working to increase HIV awareness.
One of the achievements Dominique is most proud of is the Open Letter to the President of Cameroon on
discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and the
criminalization of sexual relations between persons of the same sex in Cameroon,
which he wrote with Eric Lembembe. The
letter documented cases of violations of the rights of LGBTI people. These
violations were contrary to United Nations treaties that Cameroon had signed
Another great accomplishment was his report sent to the
United Nations for the UN Universal Periodic Review for Cameroon in 2013. This report was developed in partnership with
organizations working on human rights in Cameroon and with the support of ILGA.
Dominique was forced to apply for asylum in 2013 after receiving death threats
due to his high-profile activism in Cameroon. He was granted asylum in France,
where he continues his HIV advocacy work with vulnerable populations. Despite
putting his life at great risk, Dominique is an inspiring example of a change-maker
providing profound leadership in the face of challenging, life-threatening
The DKVVA is supported by a Secretariat based at the Global Forum on
MSM & HIV (MSMGF). The MSMGF advocates for equitable access to effective
HIV prevention, care, treatment, and support services tailored to the needs of
gay men and other MSM, including gay men and MSM living with HIV, while
promoting their health and human rights worldwide. You can find more
information about the MSMGF at www.msmgf.org.
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