International gay rights groups are in an uproar over the second case in a week that actively criminalizes homosexuality in Cameroon
Two men in Cameroon were sentenced to five years jail-time under suspicion of being gay.
Franky Djome and Jonas Singa Kumie had an appeal hearing yesterday (Friday 21 September) after receiving a five year prison sentence for being ‘perceived’ as gay by their manner of dressing and speaking.
‘The judge gave the highest possible sentence to Franky and Jonas because their vocabulary was "feminine", because they drank a beverage that’s perceived to be something gay men drink, and because the clothes they were wearing were not masculine enough’, said Michel Togué, Jonas and Franky’s attorney.
‘Our country is throwing innocent people in jail just for being different and it needs to stop.’
Over the last week, more than 100,000 people signed a petition by AllOut.org, an international gay rights group, asking the Cameroon President Paul Biya and Minister of Justice Laurent Esso to reverse a separate decision to jail Roger Jean-Claude Mbédé.
Mbédé was sentenced to 3 years prison for sending a text message to another man that said: ‘I’m very much in love with you’.
Mbédé has already served one-third of his prison sentence, allegedly being subjected to abuse in custody.
Andre Banks, Executive Director of AllOut.org said: ‘"The cases of Franky, Jonas, and Roger are not isolated incidents — these are systematic violations of the most basic human rights.
An appeal against Mbédé’s conviction will be held on 19 November, 2012.
The AllOut.org petition also calls for a moratorium on the laws that sent Mbédé to prison in the first place.
Male and female homosexual activity is illegal in Cameroon, under Section 347, with a penalty of five years in prison and a fine.
In 2011, over a dozen men were arrested under Section 347, solely on the suspicion of homosexuality, according to The Advocate.