Cameroon court frees men jailed for appearing gay
BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — A Cameroonian court has overturned the conviction of two men who were sentenced to five-year prison terms after they were found guilty of "homosexual behaviour," The Associated Press and 76crimes.com report.
Police arrested Singa Kimie (also known as Jonas Singa Kumie) and Ndjome Francky (also known as Franky Djome) outside a nightclub in the capital Yaoundé in July 2011. They were subsequently sentenced to jail because of the clothes they were wearing (considered not masculine enough), their "feminine" speech and for drinking Baileys, perceived as a gay man's drink.
The Court of Appeals acquitted the men today, Jan 7, and ordered their release, a ruling hailed by human rights advocates who say the men were subjected to abuse from prison guards and other prisoners while they awaited the outcome of their appeal. The two had already served more than a year in prison before being released.
President Paul Biya is being urged to release all other prisoners found guilty under the country's anti-gay laws.
The three-year sentence against a Cameroonian man found guilty of homosexual conduct for expressing his love for another man in a text message has been upheld by an appeals court.
Jean-Claude Roger Mbédé, 32, who was released on bail in July after serving a year and a half in prison, says he's not sure he'll be able to endure the treatment he faced in jail.
The Associated Press quotes Mbédé as saying, "I am going back to the dismal conditions that got me critically ill before I was temporarily released for medical reasons. I am not sure I can put up with the anti-gay attacks and harassment I underwent at the hands of fellow inmates and prison authorities on account of my perceived and unproven sexual orientation. The justice system in this country is just so unfair."