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Cameroon urged to free men jailed for ‘homosexual behaviour’

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — A Cameroon court is scheduled to deliver a decision Oct 19 in an appeal involving two men serving five-year prison terms after they were found guilty of "homosexual behaviour." They were sentenced based on the clothes they were wearing, their speech and what they were drinking, Pink News reports.

The men, known by the names Francky and Jonas, were arrested in July 2011 outside a nightclub in the Cameroonian capital, Yaoundé.

According to the executive director of the queer advocacy group allout.org, Andre Banks, the judge gave the men the toughest possible sentence because "their vocabulary was ‘feminine,’ because they drank a beverage [Bailey's liqueur] that’s perceived to be something gay men drink, and because the clothes they were wearing were not ‘masculine’ enough.”

The United States and the European Union have also weighed in with statements of their own about Cameroon's gay rights record, calling on the African country to end homophobic persecution. 

Like Amnesty International, AllOut is also calling on Cameroon authorities to intervene in the case of Roger Jean-Claude Mbédé, who was jailed for sending a text message to another man that reportedly reads, "I'm very much in love w/u."

Pink News notes that more than 100,000 people have signed an AllOut petition to overturn Mdébé's conviction. He is currently out on bail while he awaits his appeal on Nov 19.

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