Published: January 14, 2014
Homosexual sex is illegal in Nigeria, where in some states ruled by Islamic law gay people can be legally stoned to death. Still, the government in recent weeks has decided to crack down on gay Nigerians both harshly and in secret, arresting dozens of suspected gay men in the country’s north and signing into law a sweeping measure that punishes gay marriage and even the formation of gay associations or clubs with as many as 14 years in prison.
News of the country’s strict new antigay law, called the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, was reported on Monday by The Associated Press, which said that its passage had been “shrouded in secrecy.” A copy of the law obtained by The A.P. was signed and dated by President Goodluck Jonathan on Jan. 7 and had been signed and dated by lawmakers nearly a month earlier, on Dec. 17. Neither the president’s office nor the National Assembly was known to be considering the measure, and neither made an announcement to mark its passage.
On Tuesday, The Associated Press reported that the police in the northern state of Bauchi had arrested 38 suspected gay men since Dec. 25. The report said the police appeared to be working from a list of 168 suspects whose names they obtained after they reportedly entrapped and arrested four gay men several weeks earlier and tortured them into naming other gay people they knew in the area. The report was attributed to two human rights organizations in the state as well as the government body that implements Islamic law in the area, which said that 11 arrests had been made in the last two weeks but denied the use of torture.
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