Gay Cameroonian, Jailed for a Text Message, Dies on Medical Leave

Rights activists allege that family deprived him of medical care

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Anne Mireille Nzouankeu / AP

In this July 2012 photo, Roger Jean-Claude Mbede poses for a picture in the home of a friend where he had sought refuge, in Yaounde, Cameroon

Cameroon’s gay “prisoner of conscience” died on Friday, according to the Associated Press.

Roger Jean-Claude Mbede, 34, was convicted under Cameroon’s stringent anti-gay laws after he sent a text message to a male friend that read, “I’m very much in love with you.” A court sentenced him to three years in prison.

Mbede was granted a temporary medical release after he developed a hernia that required hospitalization. His family removed him from the hospital’s care despite what activists’ described as a rapidly deteriorating condition.

“His family said he was a curse for them and that we should let him die,” Mbede’s lawyer told AP.