Cameroon court frees 2 men jailed for 'looking gay,' ordering Bailey's Irish Cream
A Cameroon appeals court has overturned the conviction of two men who were sentenced to five years in prison for "looking gay" and ordering Bailey's Irish Cream.
The Court of Appeals Monday acquitted the men and ordered their release. The two men were convicted in November 2011 and had already spent more than a year in jail, where they were subjected to abuse from guards and other prisoners, according to human rights advocates.
"Their conviction was against the law because they were not actually seen or caught doing anything at the time the police arrested them," said their lawyer, Alice Nkom, according to Reuters. "They were arrested because they were seen wearing women's clothes and because of the nature of their make-up, and only suspected to be homosexuals, which is against Cameroon law."
The new ruling has been hailed by human rights lawyers and gay rights advocates who urged President Paul Biya to release all other prisoners found guilty under the country's harsh anti-gay laws.
On December 17, a Cameroonian court upheld the five-year sentence of another man, Roger Jean-Claude Mbede, who was convicted of sending a text message that said "I love you" to another man.
Homosexuality is illegal in many African countries and can carry a penalty of up to five years in jail in Cameroon, according to Reuters.