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Roger Jean-Claude Mbédé and the crime of love

Roger Jean-Claude Mbédé has died after being released from prison.

On January 10, 2014, we learned that Roger Jean-Claude Mbédé had died in Cameroon. Roger had been sentenced to 3 years in prison because he sent another man an SMS that said "I’m very much in love w/u" – in a country where it’s illegal to be gay.

The details of how Roger died are not yet clear – but what we know is this: In prison he faced physical abuse and medical emergencies. Out of jail he was attacked and turned away from employment, school, shelter and even critical healthcare.

Actually, we are learning a little bit more about how he died, and it’s horrible. Mbédé had testicular cancer, and had surgery last summer, but had ongoing problems that needed treatment. His family refused him that treatment; they wanted him to die.

Alice Nkom, a lawyer who worked on his case, said he died on Friday after his relatives removed him from the hospital where he had been seeking treatment for a hernia.

She said: ’His family said he was a curse for them and that we should let him die.’

The only curse here was his hateful family.

Comments

  1. says

    Religious delusion destroys ethical thinking and murders people. Religion of Love, the biggest Lie ever followed. Why do human rights groups even have to demand an inquiry? It should be the official duty of the state to investigate and charge the relatives who purposefully and pre-meditatedly caused his death. They need to go to jail, the longer the better.

  2. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    Mbédé had testicular cancer, and had surgery last summer, but had ongoing problems that needed treatment. His family refused him that treatment; they wanted him to die.

    I have no coherent thoughts. Just an overwhelming sense of despair tainted with rage.

  3. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Felix

    It should be the official duty of the state to investigate and charge the relatives who purposefully and pre-meditatedly caused his death.

    The state locked him up for the same reason the family wanted him dead. I doubt the state care.

  4. Thomathy, Gay Where it Counts says

    That’s sickening. I can hope for change, but there are clearly people working very hard to maintain these laws and make the penalties harsher.

  5. says

    ’His family said he was a curse for them and that we should let him die.’

    Jesus. That’s sickening. Deeply sickening. It doesn’t help matters that there are all manner of families all over the world who would do the same damn thing if they could get away with it.

  6. says

    Dalillama, yeah, I know. I know. It’s a terrible thing, what humans will do out of fear and loathing, never even seeing the evil they do in order to make themselves mentally comfortable.

  7. says

    I’ll add this, too: I skimmed the front page upon waking, and was upset to see that posts about toast and football garnered high comment numbers, while this was had 5 comments. That doesn’t speak well either.

  8. vaiyt says

    I have nothing to say. In this town I live, there’s a big problem with gays being beaten to death, which a lot of people are terribly invested in believing has nothing to do with hate crimes.

  9. says

    Vaiyt:

    In this town I live, there’s a big problem with gays being beaten to death, which a lot of people are terribly invested in believing has nothing to do with hate crimes.

    That happens all over the place. People will say anything to deny that their actions and hatred is based on fear. It’s a terrible thing. Long days ago, I was punched for the crime of walking out of a gay bar (this was in Salt Lake City, Utah), and ended up in a huge godsdamned fight, defending myself and my friends. It’s terrifying.

  10. stripeycat says

    Caine, that sucks: I hadn’t even thought about it, but you’re right (and I’ve been running my mouth in the frivolous threads too). Agh. I think it may be because the only thing I can think right now is “where’s the gin”? Is it better to post a me-too comment about the dreadfulness than stare blankly at the wall?

  11. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    I don’t understand how someone’s family can prevent someone already in hospital (who is seeking treatment) from getting treatment, but then again, that probably means staff wanted to side with the “family” whether it was right and lawful or not.

    My condolences to Roger’s friends and loved ones.

    May his “family” live to see what they destroyed him for become accepted and respected.

  12. says

    His family let him die.
    I really cannot comprehend that.
    On some gut level, I can understand the aversion to homosexuality. Obviously I think it’s wrong and hateful, but I *get* it.
    I do not get how your family can despise you so much that they will refuse proper medical care for you. I really cannot imagine ever refusing medical care for a family member, no matter who they are or what they’ve done.

  13. Desert Son, OM says

    Tony! at #15

    I do not get how your family can despise you so much that they will refuse proper medical care for you.

    Unfortunately, the word “family” has never automatically equated to “empathy” and “love,” even though many families do experience, embrace, and express such qualities. Perhaps the majority of families do, and I would hope so.

    But there has never been an empathy test among humans for procreation. Moreover, in environments where some family members may hold terrific power over others, some family members who might otherwise express empathy, support, and compassion might feel cowed into submission to the authority that demands rejection and retribution, for fear of their own lives. A broader culture that encourages persecution of homosexuality, and facilitates it in its infrastructure, might make any localized familial support all the more difficult.

    None of which is comfort at all for the horrific circumstances of Mdébé’s tragedy. My own sadness is compounded by a shared frustration that wanting “family” to be supportive and loving does not necessarily make it so. I remain hopeful that education and a growing world accepting and normalizing homosexuality will reap long term socio-cultural pressure on places where simply being what one is is illegal. Would that would change immediately, or even retroactively, that Mdébé and all others as yet unnamed might yet live, and find love and compassion.

    For now, the hollow of grief and rage remains at the horror of such hate.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  14. says

    Robert:

    My own sadness is compounded by a shared frustration that wanting “family” to be supportive and loving does not necessarily make it so.

    I’d forgotten that, I’m sorry to say. More than a few people on Pharyngula have commented about having horrible family members. I should have remembered that.

  15. Desert Son, OM says

    Tony! at #17,

    I wanted to apologize if I condescended in my comment. I share your astonishment at the horror of the events, in part because the wistful, romantic, and (sometimes naively) optimistic side of my personality wants there to be genuine goodness in families worldwide. “Our child/sibling/parent/other extended family member is gay? Great! I can’t wait until they fall in love with someone wonderful and we can have them over for dinner! We should break out the the slides from our last trip to Yellowstone!”

    Also, in part, because it is, as you so rightly observed, truly horrific cruelty of the profoundest kind.

    I’m fortunate in my own family there is lots of love (even though there’s also a lot of socio-political disagreement that can get heated. Most of my family is NRA-style conservative. Family get-togethers can be challenging for me), but four of my half-siblings (I really dislike that term. Sure, we only share one proximal biological antecedent, but they’re still my siblings! They’re not half anything!) had a particular parent who was . . . “neglectful” is the kindest possible term I could put to it, and 50+ years later my siblings still bear the psychological scars and troubles therefrom. As you note, they’re not alone in that kind of experience.

    It reminds me that rethinking definitions sometimes helps. I like to think of my family as including my dearest beloved friends, even though we share no proximal genetic antecedents. For those people who have lived in the shadow of hateful “blood” family, finding family outside of that can be a truly great thing, and no less potent in compassion, support, love. It’s also why I’m a supporter of adoption. I’ve known a number of parents who adopted children, and who loved them as beautifully and richly as any parents who gave birth. It’s another reason to continue working for adoption equality alongside marriage equality.

    At a friend reunion (I attend those more than I attend family reunions, interestingly enough. The socio-political conversation are much less stressful, and much more laughter ensues) a number of years ago one of my dear friends gave one of the greatest toasts I’ve ever heard. She raised her glass and looked around the table at all of us gathered and said, “Here’s to the family you choose.”

    Thanks for your comments, and also to everyone in this thread.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  16. Robert B. says

    There should be more texts that say “I’m very much in love w/u”. Not less. More.