Amidst news that Nigeria has enacted one of the worst anti-gay laws in the world, it’s been reported that at least 38 people accused of being gay have been arrested in Nigeria’s northern Bauchi state.
According to AP, police are believed to have extracted the names of 168 suspected homosexuals by torturing four men. They are planning to take the remaining people on the list into custody.
Dorothy Aken’Ova, executive director of Nigeria’s International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights (ICRHSR), said that while the crackdown began late last year before the bill was signed, the arrests were related to “all the noise that was going on surrounding the bill”.
Especially disturbing, the men, if found guilty, could face the death penalty. Bauchi is one of twelve northern states that also operate under Islamic Shari’a law that allows homosexuality to be punished with death by stoning. ICRHSR is giving legal support to the arrested men.
The chairman of the Bauchi state Shari’a Commission, Mustapha Baba Ilela, only confirmed the arrest of 10 men to AP, and denied claims that anyone had been tortured.
AP also reported that the arrests were sparked off by rumours that the US had paid gay activists millions of dollars to promote same-sex marriage in the country.
The sweeping new legislation, signed by President Goodluck Jonathan, will imprison anyone in a same-sex relationship or same-sex couples who attempt to marry for 14 years. It will also jail anyone who witnesses, solemnises or aids a same-sex marriage for 10 years. Any public display of same-sex affection will lead to a prison term of 10 years.
The bill will also jail anyone who supports or operates gay clubs, societies and organisations, processions or meetings for 10 years and people who do not report suspected homosexuals to the authorities could be jailed for up to five years.