A gay man in Cameroon who was jailed for sending a text message to another man, saying “I’m very much in love with you,” has died.
Roger Jean-Claude Mbede, 34, passed away on Friday roughly one month after his family removed him from the hospital where he had been seeking treatment for a hernia.
Mr Mbede was arrested in March 2011 in connection with the text message and received a three-year sentence.
In July 2012 he was granted provisional release on medical grounds, according to Human Rights Watch, and went into hiding. An appeals court upheld his conviction in December 2012.
According to his lawyer, Alice Nkom, his family said he was a “curse” for them and that they wanted him to die.
Blaming Cameroon’s Government for his death, she added: “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.”
Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Cameroon with custodial sentences of up to five years imprisonment.
According to Human Rights Watch, at least 28 people in Cameroon have been charged under the country’s anti-gay laws in the past three years – more than any other African nation.