BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — 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, The Guardian reports.
According to the report, 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."
Mbédé's lawyer now has 10 days to file an appeal to Cameroon's supreme court. Like others who defend those accused of homosexuality, his lawyer, Alice Nkom, has faced death threats.
Nkom says the threats were made in phone calls and text messages. According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), one message reads, "Lesbian whore, it's your turn to suffer. Watch your back well as your security is very weak. We will give you a demonstration when the moment comes. No respite for gays in our country."
The threats also targeted Nkom's children, but she vows they "cannot discourage me from my fight," AFP reports.
Neela Ghoshal, a researcher in Human Rights Watch's queer rights program, says Cameroon arrests, prosecutes and convicts more people than any other country in Africa for consensual same-sex adult conduct. Ghosal told The Guardian that "in most of these cases there is little or no evidence. Usually people are convicted on the basis of allegations or denunciations from people who have claimed to law enforcement officials that they are gay." In many cases, suspects are coerced into giving "confessions," which are then used against them.
In Cameroon, sentences for people found guilty of having sexual relations with another person of the same sex can range between six months and five years.
In October, two men were sentenced to five-year prison terms after they were found guilty of "homosexual behaviour." They were sentenced based on the clothes they were wearing (considered not masculine enough), their "feminine" speech and for drinking Baileys, perceived as a gay man's drink.