Screening of LGBT Documentary "Born This Way"

NEW YORK, NY (22 July, 2013) – The Arcus Foundation, a leading global foundation advancing pressing social justice and conservation issues, dedicated its screening of the film Born This Way to Cameroonian activist Eric Ohena Lembembe, 34, who was found tortured and killed at his home in Cameroon’s capital Yaoundé.

The screening of Born This Way, a documentary about the lives and challenges of LGBT communities and activists in Cameroon, took place in New York on 31 July 2013 and brought together activist colleagues and friends of Mr. Lembembe from one of the country’s main LGBT rights groups Alternatives Cameroun, as well as the film’s director Shaun Kadlec.

“There has been much celebration of recent progress toward LGBT equality in  countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, but the global movement for LGBT equality will be successful only when people in every  country are able to live freely regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Kevin Jennings, Arcus’ Executive Director.

“We offer this screening as a commemoration of the life of Mr. Lembembe, his family and community and all those working to advance the cause of LGBT people in Cameroon and around the world. Solidarity across national borders is critical to our global movement, and it is in this spirit that the film’s director made his work available to us.”

Mr. Lembembe was executive director of the Cameroonian Foundation for Aids, a civil society organization in Yaoundé that defends the rights of LGBT people and those affected by HIV/AIDS.  He had been a prominent activist and journalist who campaigned for equal rights, despite severe discrimination and violence.

While Mr. Lembembe is not featured in Born This Way, other Cameroonian organizations and individuals who have experienced homophobic violence or discrimination are presented. Offices of Alternatives Cameroun, a non-governmental organization that monitors LGBT rights and features prominently in the film, were set on fire 26 June in the country’s commercial capital, Douala.

“There are more arrests for homosexuality in Cameroon than any other country in the world and bringing awareness to these individuals fighting for not only equal rights but for their very lives is fundamental to change in Cameroon,” said film director Shaun Kadlec.

“Born This Way is poised to be a tool for awareness-building and sensitization about this crucial human rights issue,” he said of the documentary that has been shown at film festivals around the world including in: New York (Human Rights Watch Film Festival), Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Berlin, Amsterdam, Toronto, and Durban.

The screening – which will took place on Wednesday, 31 July at 5:00 pm at the Eventi Hotel, 3rd Floor Screening Room, 851 Avenue of the Americas / 6th Avenue – provided an opportunity for discussion with one of Cameroun’s leading advocates for LGBT rights, Yves Yomb, Executive Director of Alternatives Cameroun. Movie director Shaun Kadlec was also present to talk about the documentary.