A Cameroonian man who was jailed for sending a “gay” text message has died, according to his lawyer.
Roger Jean-Claude Mbede, who was declared a ‘prisoner of conscience’ by Amnesty International, died on Friday, one month after his family stopped his hospital treatment for a hernia which he developed in prison. He was 34 years-old.
Lawyer Alice Nkom told press, “His family said he was a curse for them and that we should let him die.”
Mbede was given a three year prison sentence in March 2011 after sending a text message to another man saying, “I am very much in love with you”.
According to Human Rights Watch, Mbede was granted provisional release on medical grounds in July 2012, and went into hiding. In December 2012, an appeals court upheld the conviction.
Nkom blamed her country’s anti-gay law for his death, saying, “I accuse the state. If there had not been criminalisation of homosexuality, he would not have gone to prison and his life would not be over. His life was finished as soon as he went to prison.”
Cameroonian LGBT activist Lambert Lamba, said that Mbede had not received any medical treatment in the month prior to his death.
“His family said they were going to remove the homosexuality which is in him,” said Lamba. “I went to see him in his village. He could not stand up, he couldn’t speak.”
Homosexuality is illegal in Cameroon and punishable by up to five years in prison and heavy fines.
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