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Dozens arrested for being gay in Nigeria in response to new anti-gay law

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

LAGOS, Nigeria — Police, working off a list of 168 suspects purportedly obtained through torture, are arresting dozens of gay men in Nigeria’s northern Bauchi state, human rights activists said Tuesday.

A new law in Nigeria, dubbed the “Jail the Gays” bill, is encouraging the persecution of gays and will endanger programs fighting HIV-AIDS in the gay community, said Dorothy Aken’Ova, executive director of Nigeria’s International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights.

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On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan’s office confirmed that the Nigerian leader signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that criminalizes gay marriage, gay organizations and anyone working with or promoting them.

In Bauchi state, police entrapped four gay men and tortured them into naming others, Aken’Ova said. She said the police have drawn up a list of 168 wanted gay men, of whom 38 have been arrested in recent weeks.

She said the arrests began du ring the Christmas holidays and blamed “all the noise that was going on surrounding the (same sex marriage prohibition) bill.”

The chairman of Bauchi state Shariah Commission, Mustapha Baba Ilela, told the AP that 11 men have been arrested in the past two weeks and charged with belonging to a gay organization. He denied anyone had been tortured and said all 11 – 10 Muslims and a non-Muslim – signed confessions that they belonged to a gay organization but that some of them retracted the statements when they were charged by a judge.

Shariah is Islamic law, which is implemented to different degrees in nine of 36 states.

An AIDS counselor told The Associated Press he helped get bail for the men and also said a total of 38 were arrested. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear he would be arrested. Aken’Ova’s organization is providing legal services for them.

The AIDS counselor said the arrests were sparked by a rumor that the United States paid $20 mi llion to gay activists to promote same-sex marriage in this highly religious and conservative nation.

The United States, Britain and Canada condemned the new law in Africa’s most populous nation, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying Monday that it “dangerously restricts freedom” of expression and association of all Nigerians.

Jonathan’s spokesman said the president signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act on Jan. 7, providing penalties of up to 14 years in jail for a gay marriage and up to 10 years’ imprisonment for membership or encouragement of gay club, societies and organizations.

The U.N. agency to fight AIDS and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria expressed “deep concern that access to HIV services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people will be severely affected by a new law in Nigeria – further criminalizing LGBT people, organizations and activities, as well as people who support them.”

The law also criminalizes people and groups who support “the registration, operation and sustenance of gay clubs, societies and organizations, processions or meetings in Nigeria.” Those convicted could be jailed for 10 years.

UNAIDS said the law could harm Jonathan’s own presidential initiative to fight AIDS, started a year ago.

It said Nigeria has the second largest HIV epidemic globally with an estimated 3.4 million people living with HIV. The disease affects many more gay men than heterosexuals, with 2010 statistics estimating national HIV prevalence at 4 percent compared to 17 percent among gay men, according to UNAIDS.

Jonathan has not publicly expressed his views on homosexuality.

His spokesman, Reuben Abati, told The Associated Press on Monday night, “This is a law that is in line with the people’s cultural and religious inclination. So it is a law that is a reflection of the beliefs and orientation of Nigerian people. … Nigerians are pleased with it.”

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42 more reader comments:

  1. :(

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:18pm
  2. Disgusting…. what a sick person, those poor men. :( I hope this changes…

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:19pm
  3. This is sad… Also a reflection of what the extreme parts of GOP would love to do in the USA

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:19pm
  4. just wrong.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:19pm
  5. This f……n president should be arrested for crimes against humanity. Send a few drones his way.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:20pm
  6. Disheartening indeed! :-(

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:22pm
  7. Thumbs down big time!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:23pm
  8. :( so sad, to see how other like to increase sadness in the world

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:24pm
  9. Depressing.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:25pm
  10. Terrible,

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:26pm
  11. I guess there not suppose to voice there rights..!!! This is 2014 these ppl need to back off , let them be free, voice what they feel..

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:28pm
  12. He has a proxy speaking for him. What a pussy.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:28pm
  13. Smh

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:29pm
  14. How did they know they were gay? Is there a test?!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:30pm
  15. Wow. :(

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:31pm
  16. Time for sanctions. And time to keep Christian talibangicals from spreading their brand of terrorism around the world.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:33pm
  17. Shame, so sad

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:35pm
  18. This is proof some countries require outside assistance in order to join the rest of the world in the 21st Century.

    Nigeria might need complete governmental restructuring, by the looks of things.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:37pm
  19. Sad

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:38pm
  20. This is disgusting to see this happen just because they are who they are!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:40pm
  21. Sad!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:43pm
  22. sick shit.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:45pm
  23. This is enough we can’t sit and say we’re glad that this is not happening to us. If nobody or any organisation can defend the LGBT people in nigeria they are doomed by this evil.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:46pm
  24. Terrible

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:46pm
  25. Noo

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:48pm
  26. sorry for them

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:49pm
  27. another coward like Putin

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:53pm
  28. Thank you Joann Sokoloski, HOW did any official know without a doubt they are gay? Because if you had sex with one or all, doesn’t that make you gay too? A sign means nothing, The money must be cut off to all countries not just for this horrific stance.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 4:00pm
  29. Only one way to hit them then… Stop all foreign aid into the country and then see what the response is.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 4:04pm
  30. This is so medievel & barbaric !!!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 4:18pm
  31. Is that the sound of a fundamentalist “praise The Lord” that I hear?

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 4:20pm
  32. Go look for murder and rapist its there choice let god deal with them who ru to judge kmft

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 4:22pm
  33. God bless and be with these brave souls!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 4:26pm
  34. Oh no, looks like I’ll cancel my vacation there. Who would have thought? It’s so safe, welcoming and otherwise progressive country. I guess I’ll have to settle for France, Italy or even the UK now.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 4:27pm
  35. That’s fucked up.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 4:28pm
  36. Stand fast dear brothers………….I wish You God Speed !

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 4:31pm
  37. creating more pain for those who already may struggle is not necessary.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 4:34pm
  38. I dont understand how a country can make it illegal, seeing God made us!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 4:38pm
  39. =(

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 4:40pm
  40. This is Crimes against Humanity and the United Nations and the Free World should Fight against this Evil abuse against our LGBT community in this Barbaric uncivilised country ! ;o(

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 4:41pm
  41. God, the ignorance and bigotry in this world makes me sick

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 4:45pm
  42. They are brave to speak up.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 5:02pm