Nigeria: 21 students arrested for homosexuality


21_students_arrested_nigeriaTwenty-one students in Nigeria have been arrested in another homophobic crackdown after they were accused of having gay sex.

Punch reported that the students were from two state-owned polytechnics in the city of Asaba, institutions the newspaper said “were a beehive of perverse sexual acts as male students engage in same sex activities for financial gains.”

“We had it on good authority that the male students allegedly engaged in anal sex,” said Delta state police Public Relations Officer, Celestina Kalu.

“The suspects, upon interrogation, made useful statements to the police while investigations are ongoing,” she added.

Bizarrely, Punch further claimed that the “culprits were also members of various cult groups.”

The incident is remarkably similar to the May arrests of 21 young men in Ibadan, reportedly for belonging to a “gay cult.”

The arrests and sensationalistic claims have the hallmarks of homophobic hysteria and a witch-hunt, in a country that has some of the most repressive anti-LGBT laws in the world. Under colonial-era legislation, the students could be jailed for 14 years if found guilty of engaging in homosexual acts.

In January 2014, a new draconian anti-LGBTI law – the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill – was signed into law. It prohibits same-sex marriage with a penalty of up to 14 years in prison and stipulates 10 years jail for public displays of same-sex affection and 10 years for membership or support of LGBTI equality and advocacy groups.

Muslims in twelve northern states in Nigeria also live under Islamic Sharia law, which allows homosexuality to be punished with death by stoning. Although this sentence is rarely carried out, those found guilty have recently most commonly been sentenced to public floggings.

In July, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari told American lawmakers that homosexuality will not be tolerated in his country and is “abhorrent to our culture.”

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