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Appeal of Cameroon man jailed for gay text delayed

Appeal of Cameroon man sentenced for three years for sending a gay text message has been delayed for two months
Roger Jean-Claude Mbédé appeal against a 3 years in jail for sending a gay text has been delayed

A Cameroon man’s three-year prison sentence for homosexuality remains on hold, at least for two months.

Over a 100,000 people have called for his realese on an online petition, with many human rights organizations joining in the call and monitoring his case.

Jean-Claude Roger Mbédé served one year of the three-year sentence before he was released for medical treatment this summer.

His appeal against his conviction was scheduled to be heard on Monday 17 September. However, a new judge has been assigned to his case, so during Sunday’s hearing any further action was delayed to let the judge become acquainted with details Mbédé’s case.

Mbédé’s appeal has been rescheduled for 19 November, 2012.

Mbédé will probably remain free on bail until his appeal.

The blog Erasing 76 Crimes reported that many representatives of human rights and LGBT rights organizations attended Monday’s appeal hearing, including CAMFAIDS, Humanity First Cameroon, Affirmative Action, ACODEV, ADEFHO, IGLHRC and Avocats Sans Frontières.

Mbédé is the subject of an Amnesty International campaign for his release as well as a petition launched by the campaign organization AllOut, which has attracted over 100,000 signatories who have asked the Cameroon’s president and prime minister to drop charges against him and decriminalize homosexuality.

Mbédé was arrested last year for sending a text message that said, ‘I am very much in love with you’ to another man.

Section 347a of the Cameroonian Penal Code which states that ‘Whoever has sexual relations with a person of the same sex shall be punished with imprisonment from six months to five years and with a fine ranging from 20,000 Francs CFA ($40 €30) to 200,000 Francs CFA ($400 €300)’.

He was charged and convicted of ‘homosexuality and attempted homosexuality’ on 9 March 2011, sentenced to three years in prison. Mbédé spent more than a year in jail, while being subjected to abuse in custody.

Commenting on the news, AllOut’s executive director, Andre Banks, said: ‘Cameroon’s officials may think postponing Mbédé’s hearing will make us forget about his case.’

‘But we will not rest until Mbédé is free and Cameroon decriminalizes love. AllOut members call upon Cameroon to free Roger immediately.’

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