Roger Jean-Claude Mbédé

A new campaign has been launched to free Roger Jean-Claude Mbédé who’s spent over a year prison in Cameroon for sending a romantic SMS to another man.

Mbédé was arrested in March 2011 by Cameroon’s security police after he sent an SMS, declaring “I’m very much in love w/u,” to a man who then showed it to the authorities.

He was held in custody for seven days before being charged with homosexuality and attempted homosexuality and transferred to Kondengui central prison on 9 March.

On 28 April last year he was found guilty on both charges and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.

On Monday, Mbédé  has a new appeal hearing. If it fails, he will spend another two years in prison, where it is reported that he faces daily abuse from guards, in addition to horrific health conditions.

Mbédé family have turned their backs on him, leaving him fighting for his freedom alone. He told online human rights group All Out: “Now, my family says I’m dangerous and they cannot live with a homosexual. Cameroonians know who I am now. I don’t know how I will even be able to go back to school and get a job.”

All Out has launched an online petition in an effort to pressure the Cameroonian government to immediately free Mbédé.

“Homosexuality is still illegal in Cameroon, but President Paul Biya and the Minister of Justice could put a stop to this right now by freeing Roger and declaring a moratorium on this discriminatory law,” said the group.

“President Biya has been swayed in the past by international pressure and knows that Cameroon’s reputation is at stake. If 50,000 of us speak out before Monday, Cameroon’s President and Minister of Justice will know they need to act,” it added.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Cameroon are in the midst of a major crackdown – more than 20 people have been arrested in the last year because they were suspected of “homosexual behaviour”.

To show your support for Roger Jean-Claude Mbédé sign the petition here.

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