Amnesty International supporters have joined those calling for the immediate and unconditional release of a Cameroonian man jailed for three years for being gay.

Jean-Claude Roger Mbede was arrested in March by Cameroon’s security service while meeting an acquaintance. The man he was meeting had showed text messages he had received from Mbede to the police.

Mbede was taken into custody on suspicion of homosexuality at the Gendarmerie du Lac detention centre in Yaoundé. He was held there for seven days before being charged with homosexuality and attempted homosexuality and transferred to Kondengui central prison on 9 March.

On 28 April, Mbede was found guilty of homosexuality and attempted homosexuality and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.

Homophobia endemic in Cameroonian society

He is currently serving his sentence at Kondengui central prison where, Amnesty says, he is at risk of homophobic attacks, as well as ill-treatment by fellow inmates or prison authorities because of his real or perceived sexual orientation.

According to Amnesty, homophobia is endemic in Cameroonian society and the arrests, prosecutions and trials of gay men occur on a regular basis.

“Locking someone up for their real or perceived sexual orientation is a flagrant breach of basic rights and should not be allowed under any country’s penal code,” said Amnesty International’s LGBT Campaign Manager Clare Bracey.

“We’re urging the Cameroonian government to repeal this law under the penal code in accordance with its international human rights obligations, and to immediately and unconditionally release Mr Mbede.”

Mbede’s lawyers are currently appealing his sentence.

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