Grieving friends and allies of gay rights icon Roger Mbede are calling for an investigation into his family’s role in his death on Jan. 10.
After Mbede, 34, left a hospital in Yaoundé last month, he was reportedly denied access to health care and was confined by his family to one room in their home village of Ngoumou.
Mbede had not been in good health since he was sentenced to three years in prison in early 2011 on homosexuality charges for sending an amorous text to a male friend. During that time, he gained international recognition as Amnesty International campaigned for his release. The following account of Mbede’s final days comes from human rights defenders in Cameroon and abroad:
Last week, almost a month after Mbede left the hospital, his friend Lambert Lamba had heard nothing from him, so Lamba went to Ngoumou on Jan. 7 to find out what was going on. He found that Mbede could no longer stand or speak.
In the village, Lamba was surrounded by 40 men who threatened him. They said that Mbede had to die because he was evil. Once he was dead, his family would be clean again, they said.
Except for Mbede’s mother and brother Noel, his family agreed with that mob.
“His family said they were going to remove the homosexuality which is in him,” Lamba said
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