An appeals has overturned the convictions of two young men found guilty of homosexuality and sentenced to five years in prison. reports the BBC. The youths were accused of "looking gay" and "appearing feminine" because they wore makeup and some women's clothing. The notorious case was first reported on Rod 2.0 in 2011.
[Attorney and human rights activist] Alice Nkom said she was pleased because the judge who convicted them had been influenced by "stereotypes". In November 2011, a court sentenced the two men to five years in prison after police arrested them for allegedly having oral sex in a car in the capital, Yaounde. They denied the charge.
On Monday the Court of Appeals ruled saying they were not guilty, Ms Nkom said. "They were doing nothing when they were arrested by police," Ms Nkom said. "Just because they were wearing women's clothes and had make-up the police said this must be a network of homosexuals and put them in jail."
She said it was unclear whether the prosecution intended to challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, she said she expected the two men to be freed on Tuesday.
Three weeks ago, the same appeal court upheld the three-year jail term of 32-year-old Jean-Claude Roger Mbede, found guilty of homosexual conduct because he sent a text message to another man saying: "I'm very much in love with you."
TNkom, who also defended Mbede, said she hoped the supreme court would overturn that ruling. "A man cannot be found guilty of practicing homosexuality simply because he sent a message to another man to say he loves him. At least two persons of same sex must be caught doing the act before they are arrested and convicted."
Cameroon is one of at least 38 of Africa's 54 nations that currently have laws penalizing same-sex relations or even sexuality. Four nations—Mauritania, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan—boast the death penalty for gays or same-sex activity. South Africa and Seychelles are the only African nations that protect LGBT rights. South Africa is also the only African nation to guarantee marriage equality.
Cameroon President Paul Biya—who has held office since 1982—boasts one of Africa's more repressive anti-LGBT regimes. Recent months have seen an increase in arrests and prosecutions under section 347a of its penal code, which criminalizes same-sex sexual acts. The government is preparing to toughen its already harsh penalties against homosexuality by equating them with pedophilia.
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