Gay prisoner Roger Jean-Claude Mbede, 34, has died after he was barred from receiving medical assistance by his family, according to Alice Nkom, a lawyer who worked on the case.

Mbede was jailed in 2011 and sentenced to three years after he had sent a text message to a man reading, "I am very much in love with you".

Mbede died about one month after his family removed him from the hospital where he had been seeking treatment for a hernia, according to Nkom.

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

Mbede developed the hernia while in prison. In July 2012, he was granted provisional release on medical grounds, according to Human Rights Watch, and went into hiding. An appeals court upheld his conviction in December 2012.

"I accuse the state," Nkom says.

"If there had not been criminalisation of homosexuality, he would not have gone to prison and his life would not be over. His life was finished as soon as he went to prison."

Lambert Lamba, a Cameroonian activist who works on behalf of sexual minorities, said Mbede had been out of the hospital for about one month prior to his death and had received no medical care during that time.

"His family said they were going to remove the homosexuality which is in him," Lamba says.

"I went to see him in his village. He could not stand up, he couldn't speak."

Mdebe was declared 'a prisoner of conscience' by Amnesty International; a person who has "been jailed because of their political, religious or other conscientiously-held beliefs, provided that they have neither used nor advocated violence".

Section 347 of the Cameroonian penal code says: "Any person who has sexual relations with a person of the same sex shall be punished with a term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of between 20,000 and 200,000 francs."

Cameroon brings more cases against suspected gays than any other African country, according to NGO Human Rights Watch.

"Most cases are marked by grave human rights violations, including torture, forced confessions, denial of access to legal counsel, and discriminatory treatment by law enforcement and judicial officials," according to a Human Rights Watch report.

Six men in the neighbouring Gabonese Republic were recently released from prison after being accused of taking part in a same-sex marriage ceremony, says prosecutor Sidonie Flore Ouwe.

Gabon is one of 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa that have not criminalized homosexual acts, according to Amnesty International. However, Ouwe said that a gay marriage ceremony would constitute obscenity and an affront to public order punishable by law.