Skip to main content

Cameroonian jailed for texting 'I'm in love with you' to another man

By Faith Karimi, CNN
December 19, 2012 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
(File photo) Homosexuality is illegal in most African countries, with punishments ranging from fines to years in prison.
(File photo) Homosexuality is illegal in most African countries, with punishments ranging from fines to years in prison.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The appeals court ruling comes after delays
  • The university student was arrested last year after the receiver tipped off authorities
  • A court sentenced him to three years in prison at the time
  • He was released as an appeal was under way

Editor's note: Read a version of this story in Arabic.

(CNN) -- A Cameroon appeals court upheld a sentence against a man convicted of homosexuality for texting his male friend to say, "I'm very much in love with you."

Roger Mbede, a university student, was arrested in March last year after the man who received the message tipped off authorities, Human Rights Watch said.

Read more: Amnesty: Malawi suspends anti-gay laws

A court sentenced Mbede to three years in prison at the time after he was beaten to coerce a confession, according to the group.

In July, after more than a year in detention, Mbede was released as his case went through the appeals process, the rights group said in a statement.

Cameroon's life-lesson 'Aunties'

The appeals court issued its ruling Monday.

Opinion: 'Why Nigeria's anti-gay bill sickens me'

"The appeals court decision ... is a blow to key human rights principles, including the right to privacy, the right to equality, and the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment," said Neela Ghoshal, a researcher at Human Rights Watch.

"The decision sends a warning to LGBT Cameroonians that they risk beatings, arrests, and imprisonment simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity."

Read more: Nigerian senate passes anti-gay bill, defying British aid threat

Homosexuality is illegal in most African countries, where sodomy laws were introduced during colonialism.

Cameroon's sentences for homosexual acts vary between six months to five years, the rights group said, citing justice ministry records.

Authorities in the west African nation were not immediately available for comment.

A series of countries have criminalized homosexuality, but prosecutions are rare.

In Uganda, homosexual acts are punishable by 14 years to life, but lawmakers are trying to introduce a bill that toughens the law.

A handful of nations issue a death penalty for consensual same-sex relations, including Sudan, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia and Iran, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT