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Gay ‘prisoner of conscience’ dies in Cameroon

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iol pic afr Cameroon Gay Death

AP

In this 2012 photo, Roger Jean-Claude Mbede poses for a picture in the home of a friend where he had sought refuge, in Yaounde, Cameroon. Picture: Anne Mireille Nzouankeu

Yaoundé - Roger Jean-Claude Mbede, a symbol for gay rights in Cameroon, where homosexuality is illegal, has died at the age of 35, his lawyer said on Monday.

“Roger died on Friday evening, probably from his illness,” Saskia Ditisheim said.

Mbede suffered from testicular cancer and had an operation in July 2013.

“Roger was the symbol for the gay rights struggle in Cameroon,” she added.

Roger's brother said he had been “expressionless for two weeks and had stopped eating,” said the lawyer.

She added his family would be taken to court for refusing him treatment due to his sexuality.

Mbede was arrested in March 2011 for sending a text message reading “I'm very in love with you” to an official in the Cameroonian presidency.

He was sentenced to three years behind bars in April of that year. Homosexuality carries a sentence of up to five years in Cameroon.

However, he was freed pending an appeal and returned to his village.

“He will remain alive in our hearts as we continue our struggle” to decriminalise homosexuality in Cameroon, Ditisheim said. - AFP


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