53 who are in prison for being gay, 40 more awaiting trial

(This page is often revised — again and again — as new information is received. Latest partial update: Jan. 29, 2014.  Information about the latest wave of arrests in Nigeria has not yet been incorporated here.)

Family members give moral support to Phil Mubiyana and James Mwape in their jail cell.

Family members give moral support to Phil Mubiyana and James Mwape in their jail cell in rural Zambia.

Worldwide, at least 53 people are currently in prison for allegedly violating laws that punish those who are born gay, lesbian or bisexual. In addition, at least 40 other people are awaiting trial on charges related to  homosexuality.

The prison sentences that have been imposed range up to five years, at the lower end of punishments that are on the books in the 76-plus countries where homosexuality is currently illegal.

Listing 93 people is probably an extreme understatement of the number of people who are behind bars or awaiting trial on anti-homosexuality charges, but finding out about specific cases is difficult, especially in countries without a free press.

The lists below provide a narrow window into just one of many types of injustice affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, sometimes with fatal results. (See below.)

At present, the lists are led by Egypt (24 in detention after recent arrests), Cameroon (13 in prison and 8 free while awaiting trial), Iran (24 arrested and detained as “homosexuals and satanists” on Oct. 8; all reportedly out on bail, awaiting trial on undisclosed charges), and Nigeria (9 in prison and 3 out on bail while awaiting trial).  Others are listed in Morocco (2), Saudi Arabia (1), Senegal (2), Zambia (5) and Zimbabwe (2).

53 PEOPLE IMPRISONED FOR HOMOSEXUALITY

> NIGERIA

Nigerian law provides for sentences of up to 14 years for homosexual activity. In parts of northern Nigeria where sharia law applies, the death penalty can be applied for same-sex intercourse.

Ifeanyi Chukwu Agah and Rabiu Benedict Yusuf
Two years in prison. Sentenced March 21, 2012.

Ifeanyi Chukwu Agah and Rabiu Benedict Yusuf were convicted of same-sex intercourse after police said Rabiu refused to pay Ifeanyi for his services as a prostitute. Rabiu asked for mercy on the grounds that he was married with six children, but the court rejected his plea.

Prince Ejimole and Lawrence Udo

Two pastors, Prince Ejimole and Lawrence Udo, were arrested after they were allegedly found having sex in a hotel room near the city of Lagos in January. No word on when a trial will be held or whether they have been released on bail.

Armstrong Ihua, Collins Ejike, and Pius Bamayi

Armstrong Ihua, Collins Ejike, and Pius Bamayi were arrested April 2 after a sexual encounter in a in Mararaba hotel room. They were detained without bail awaiting court action on April 23, but no further news has been received.

Emeka Eze and Jonathan Akatin

Emeka Eze, 35, and Jonathan Akatin, 22, were arraigned Oct. 3, 2013, in an Upper Area Court, Jos, and charged with homosexual behavior. They pleaded guilty and were sent back to prison to await a court hearing on Oct. 10, 2013.

>CAMEROON

Cameroonian law provides for sentences of up to five years for homosexual activity.

Prison centrale à Yaoundé.

Yaoundé Central Prison.

10 detainees at Yaoundé Central Prison: Lan, Issa, Thio, etc.
Observers from the LGBT rights group Camfaids visited Yaoundé Central Prison on Oct. 16 and 17, 2013, and found nine young men and one young woman being held there on homosexuality charges, previously unknown to human rights defenders. Many said they had been tortured.  Many had been held there since 2012 without a trial. Most or all were awaiting trial. Their stories are told in the blog post “Cameroon: 10 more victims of anti-gay laws, many tortured.” They are identified there under the pseudonyms Lan, Issa, Thio, etc.

Clarisse Z. and Jeanine N.
9 months in prison. Sentenced May 15, 2013.

Clarisse Z. went to the police in January 2013 to complain about harassment and death threats. The police decided that the root of the problem was a lesbian relationship between her and Jeanine N., so they arrested them both. On May 15, 2013, they were both sentenced to nine months for violating Cameroon’s anti-homosexuality law.

Cornelius Fonya
In prison awaiting trial.

Police in the coastal city of Limbe arrested Cornelius Fonya on Oct. 29, 2012, on homosexuality charges after a mob seized him and delivered him to the police station. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in a hearing on Nov. 7. On Dec. 27, he was granted release on bail of 700,000 CFA — an amount that he was not able to raise. His lawyer says Fonya was arrested on the basis of the mob’s accusation.

>EGYPT

Egyptian law does not explicitly outlaw homosexual activity, so police arrest LGBT people on charges of “debauchery” or “sexual immorality.”

14 unidentified men in El-Marg
On Oct. 11, 2013,  14 men were arrested for allegedly engaging in gay sex at a gym/sauna in the El-Marg district in northeastern Cairo. A month later, those men reportedly were still incarcerated.

10 unidentified arrestees: one woman, nine men
On Nov. 5, 2013,  1o people were arrested on homosexuality-related charges at a party in 6th of October City west of Cairo.  Pending court action, they were ordered to be held for 15 days.

>MOROCCO

Under Moroccan law, a prison sentence of up to three years is provided for homosexual activity.

Two unidentified men
3 years in prison. Sentenced May 4, 2013.

Gay Maroc reported that two men were sentenced May 4, 2013, to three years in prison for homosexuality — the maximum penalty.

> SAUDI ARABIA

Under sharia law, the death penalty can be imposed for homosexual activity in Saudi Arabia.

Name unknown. In November 2010, a 27-year-old Saudi Arabian man was sentenced to 500 lashes and five years’ imprisonment by a court in Jeddah for the criminal offense of homosexuality, among other charges, Amnesty International reported.

> SENEGAL

Under Senegalese law, a prison sentence of one to five years is provided for homosexual activity.

Tamsir Jupiter Ndiaye and Matar Diop Diagne.

“The noted journalist and employee of UNESCO [Tamsir Jupiter Ndiaye] was sentenced on 24 October [2012] to a four year prison term without parole, for having gay sex and causing grievous bodily harm to Matar Diop Diagne, who was convicted of committing ‘acts against nature’ and sentenced for a three year prison sentence without parole,” Gay Star News reported.

In chains, Philip Mubiana and James Mwape enter the Kapiri Mposhi courtroom.

In chains, Philip Mubiana (shown) and James Mwape enter the Kapiri Mposhi courtroom.

> ZAMBIA

Under Zambian law, sexual relations between men are punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Philip Mubiana and James Mwape
In prison awaiting trial.

Philip Mubiana, 21, and James Mwape, 20, were arrested in late April 2013, released briefly, and then rearrested May 4. Since then, they have been held in prison pending their trial on homosexuality charges. The next court action was scheduled for Aug. 28. Their arrest resulted from an anti-gay campaign launched in early April, when Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba urged the Zambian public to report homosexuals. In response to that appeal, Mubiana’s sister Sharon reported her brother to police.

41 PEOPLE IN DANGER OF BEING RETURNED TO PRISON

> CAMEROON

Esther Aboa Belinga and Martine Solange Abessolo

Awaiting trial

Three women in the city of Ambam were charged with lesbianism in February 2012. Esther Aboa Belinga and Martine Solange Abessolo were arrested because they were living together. They were detained for six days before they were released pending trial. The wife of Assom Ndem née Djula was also charged after her husband accused her of being a lesbian, because Abessolo told him to keep her away from Aboa Belinga. Charges against Mrs. Assom Ndem were later dropped.

Samuel Gervais Akam
Awaiting trial

Samuel Gervais Akam was held for months at the New Bell prison in Douala, awaiting trial for homosexuality. In November 2012, he was released on bail to continue waiting for the trial to begin.

Louis Marcel Ijanja
Awaiting trial.

Louis Marcel Ijanja, a village chief, was arrested Sept. 3, 2010, in the coastal city of Kribi on charges of homosexuality. Eventually he was released from jail to await his trial. (Source: Human Rights Watch report of March 2013)

Gideon, Leonard, Elvis and R.
Awaiting trial

Four men identified as Gideon (or Gildeon) M., Leonard N., Elvis (or Kelvin) F., and R.X. (reportedly a minor) were arrested in December 2011 in the town of Kumba on homosexuality charges. They were denounced as homosexuals by an angry crowd, beaten, and turned over to police. They are still awaiting trial, but no court proceedings have been held. Their attorney hopes that the case will eventually be dropped. (Source: Human Rights Watch report of March 2013)

> IRAN

Iranian law provides for the death penalty in some cases of consensual same-sex relations both for men and women.

Oct. 9 arrests in Kermanshah, Iran (Photo courtesy of Mehr News Agency)

Oct. 9, 2013, arrests in Kermanshah, Iran (Photo courtesy of Mehr News Agency)

24 reported arrested and detained
Arrests were made Oct. 8, 2013. They were reportedly blindfolded and taken to an unknown location. Within a few days they were freed on bail to await trial.

Revolutionary guards in Iran’s Kermanshah province made at least 24 arrests (“dozens”) at a birthday party. They claimed that the arrests resulted from a lengthy  investigation into a “a network of homosexuals and devil-worshippers.”  In an update several weeks after the arrests, activist analyst Scott Long noted that “these cases can drag on for years without a hearing.” He added, “My guess is that a lot of [the people arrested] have gone into hiding (i.e. moved to other cities) or, since Kermanshah is near the border, crossed into Iraq — or even to Turkey to claim refugee status.”

> NIGERIA

Nigerian law provides for sentences of up to 14 years for homosexual activity. In parts of northern Nigeria where sharia law applies, the death penalty can be applied for same-sex intercourse.

Benjamin Ndubuisi
Out on bail awaiting trial

Based on rumors, police arrested Pastor Benjamin Ndubuisi in August 2013 for having gay sex with a 23-year-old man, newspaper reports say. He pleaded not guilty, was released on bail and was scheduled to return to court on Sept. 9, 2013.

Samuel Friday and Oni Oluwatobi
Out on bail awaiting trial

Samuel Friday, 19, and Oni Oluwatobi, 18, were charged on Oct. 1, 2013, with indecent sexual practice and seducing another into homosexuality. They were released on $620 bail, pending their trial.

> ZAMBIA

Under Zambian law, sexual relations between men are punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Paul Kasonkomona
Out on bail awaiting trial

Paul Kasonkomona (Photo courtesy of Muvi TV)

Paul Kasonkomona (Photo courtesy of Muvi TV)

Police arrested human rights activist Paul Kasonkomona on April 7, 2013, immediately after he appeared live on MUVI television urging repeal of the law that makes homosexual activity a crime. He was held for five days on charges of “being idle and disorderly in a public place.” He was then released on bail to await trial.

Harrison Jere and “Jackson Musonda”
Out on bail awaiting trial

A man in Lusaka called police on Aug. 8, 2013, to say that he had discovered that two male guests of his were having sex. Police arrested Harrison Jere and a young man identified as “Jackson Musonda.” They were charged with homosexual activity and released on bail to await trial.

> ZIMBABWE

Zimbabwean law provides for sentences of up to one year for homosexual activity.

Lionel Girezha

Lionel Girezha

Lionel Girezha and Ngonidzashe Chinya
Awaiting trial

Lionel Girezha, 27, and Ngonidzashe Chinya, 28, were arrested on Oct. 20, 2011, in the suburb of Mbare in Harare and charged with sodomy, Amnesty International reported. They were beaten before they were taken into police custody. At their first trial, gang members harassed and threatened their lawyers, who successfully appealed to have the trial’s location changed from Mbare. Girezha and Chinya have been released pending the start of their new trial.

Two more? Ability Chatira Mpofu and Blessing Chauke

Ability Chatira Mpofu and Blessing Chauke reportedly were arrested in September 2012 after police found that Chauke was wearing women’s clothes and that the two men had gotten married. But the activist group Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe said they did not know the two men, so they concluded that they were fictional creations of Zimbabwe’s homophobic media.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Here are some ways to give a boost to the struggle to release these prisoners and to repeal all anti-homosexuality laws:

Readers, please suggest other steps to take.

OTHER INJUSTICES FACING LGBTI PEOPLE

Of necessity, the lists above omit many types of injustices that confront LGBTI people worldwide. Here are a few of the omissions:

The lists above do not include people who were executed in one of the seven countries where homosexual activity is a capital crime. (In Iran, three people were executed in 2011 for homosexual activities, according to Amnesty International.)

The lists do not include the dozens of gay men who reportedly have been killed by death squads in Iraq without any government interference and sometimes with help from police.

The lists do not include the many people who die of AIDS each year in countries where LGBTI people are excluded from HIV prevention programs. Nor do they include the countless heterosexual women who die of AIDS after contracting HIV from their closeted gay or bisexual husband in countries where homosexuals are stigmatized.

Matthew Shepard, who was killed in 1998, apparently because he was gay. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Matthew Shepard, who was killed in 1998, apparently because he was gay. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

The lists do not include lesbians and gays, such as Tyler Clementi of Rutgers University in the United States, who commit suicide because of the scorn they suffer or the unwarranted shame they feel because of who they are.

The lists do not include people killed by bigots because they are gay, such as Matthew Shepard in the United States in 1998, and an alleged 249 people in Peru during 2006-2010.

They do not include people killed because they are working for gay rights, such as Daniel Zamudio in Chile and Thapelo Makutle in South Africa in 2012 and perhaps David Kato in Uganda in 2011.

They also do not include lesbian and bisexual women who suffer “corrective rapes” or sexual assaults because of their sexual orientation.

PREVIOUSLY ON THE LIST

>CAMEROON

Jean-Claude Roger Mbede
Died in January 2014 under suspicious circumstances while awaiting action by the Supreme Court on his appeal of a ruling by the Central Appeals Court that could have returned him to prison.

Jean-Claude Roger Mbede was freed temporarily in mid-2012 for medical treatment after serving 16 months of a three-year prison sentence for homosexuality. He had been arrested after sending a text message expressing his love to a man he thought was his friend.

 

Jonas Singha Kumie and Franky Ndome (Djome)
Sentenced to 5 years in prison; verdict overturned on appeal

Jonas Singa Kumie and Franky Djome, with their attorney, Alice Nkom.

In Cameroon, Jonas Singa Kumie and Franky Djome won the appeal of their five-year sentence for homosexual activity. Here they pose with their attorney, Alice Nkom. (Photo by Eric O. Lembembe)

Jonas Singa Kumie and Franky Djome were in a group of three men who were arrested in July 2011 for homosexual acts. They were sentenced to five years in prison, appealed from their cells, and finally received a favorable decision after more than a year and half in prison. On their release in early 2013, they were reportedly pursued by a mob and went into hiding. The third man who was arrested with them paid a fine and was released.

Stéphane Maliedji and Jean Jacques Eyock
Fled the country while awaiting trial

Stéphane Maliedji and Jean Jacques Eyock of Cameroon, along with Australian citizen John Vasek, were arrested on March 26, 2010, on charges of violating Cameroon’s anti-homosexuality laws. They were released after Vasek paid $2,500 to the police. The case is still pending, but all three reportedly have now fled the country.

Emile Mamougou Nkoa and Fabien Mbala
Convicted. Released after five months.

Emile Mamougou Nkoa and Fabien Mbala were arrested for homosexuality and convicted on May 14, 2010. They were reportedly released after five months.

Depadou N and Paul Arno
Arrested and released after five days in late 2011. They reportedly paid bribes to win their release.

Thomas Leba
Amnesty International report, Jan. 23, 2013: “In December 2012, Amnesty International delegates met and interviewed [Thomas Leba] at New Bell prison. …. Leba, 24, said he was arrested in Douala on 15 October 2011 and accused of being gay. The Court of First Instance in Douala found him guilty of homosexuality and sentenced him to one year’s imprisonment. He appealed against his conviction and sentence. When Amnesty International met him in December he had already been in prison for 15 months but had not been released, apparently because he was awaiting a decision of the Court of Appeal.” Perhaps he has now been released, since much more than a year has passed since he was sentenced to one year in prison.

Joseph Magloire Ombwa and Séraphin Ntsama
Released in July or August 2013 after almost two years in prison awaiting trial.

Joseph Magloire Ombwa and Séraphin Ntsama were among a group of four men arrested August 10, 2011, on homosexuality charges and subjected to anal examinations. They were held at the central prison in Yaoundé awaiting trial. Tiomela Lontsi (Emma Tiomela Lontsie) and Nicolas Ntamack, the other men arrested with them, were released from prison in July 2012. In July 2013, their trial was held. Ombwa was sentenced to two years in prison, which he had already served, except for a few weeks, and was ordered to pay a small fine. Ntsama was acquitted. Lontsi was given a suspended sentence. In October 2012, Ntamack was re-arrested on new charges, reportedly unrelated to homosexuality.

Nicolas Ntamack and Tiomela Lontsi
Charges dropped; suspended sentence

Tiomela Lontsi (Emma Tiomela Lontsie) and Nicolas Ntamack were arrested in August 2011 on homosexuality charges. They were released in July 2012 to await the start of their trial. Joseph Magloire Ombwa, Séraphin Ntsama, and Nicolas Ntamack, who were arrested with them, were still in prison awaiting trial. Ntamack reportedly was arrested and imprisoned again, but not on charges relating to homosexuality. The original charges against Ntamack were dropped. Lontsi was given a suspended sentence.

Aboubakar Siliki, Mbezele Yannick and Yntebeng Pascal
Arrested, held for two days, released to await a trial that never happened.

Aboubakar Siliki and Mbezele Yannick were arrested in April 2011 on homosexuality charges after they went to the police station in Douala to try to resolve a dispute over finances. When Yntebeng Pascal arrived at the police station to discuss the situation, he too was arrested on homosexuality charges after police deemed him “too effeminate.” The three men were detained for two days. They were then released awaiting trial. The case was later dropped.

> MOROCCO

Youssef L. and Redouane Z.
4 months in prison. Sentenced May 20, 2013.

Police said they spotted Youssef L. and Redouane Z. having sex in a car on May 2, 2013. They were arrested on charges of homosexuality and molestation. They could have been sentenced to three years in prison, but the sentence was limited to four months because of their youth and their lack of a criminal record, Gay Maroc reported.

> TUNISIA
Under Tunisian law, sodomy is punishable by up to three years in prison.

Mounir Baatour and an unidentified man.

The leader of Tunisia’s opposition Liberal Party, Mounir Baatour, was arrested with another man and jailed on sodomy charges following an incident on March 31, 2013, at the Sheraton Tunis Hotel, when hotel staff reportedly found two men engaging in sex. He pleaded not guilty. In June, he was sentenced to three months in prison, which made him eligible for almost immediate release. No further information about the case was released.

> UGANDA

Ugandan law provides for life sentences for homosexual activity, though the law has rarely been enforced. But two young LGBT activists were arrested on homosexuality-related charges just before and just after New Year’s Day 2013.

Joseph Kawesi
Arrested Dec. 31 and accused of homosexual activity and reportedly also “promoting homosexuality,” though that is not an offense under current Ugandan law. He was released, repeatedly summoned back to answer further questions, and still awaiting word on whether charges against him will be pursued.

Kabuye Najibu
Arrested Jan. 2 when he went to visit Joseph Kawesi at the police station where he is jailed. Najibu was reportedly accused of homosexual activity and “promoting homosexuality.” Like Kawesi, Najibu was released on bail and is awaiting word on whether charges against him will be pursued.

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39 Responses to 53 who are in prison for being gay, 40 more awaiting trial

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  6. Ken says:

    Great work you’re doing Colin. One question: You concede that your figure of 27 is probably an extreme understatement of the number of people who are behind bars or awaiting trial on anti-homosexuality charges. But if you had to hazzard a guess – and allowing for detentions on other pretexts such as loitering, lewd behaviour, inappropriate touching, same-sex co-habiting, publishing pro-gay statements, corrupting public morals, outraging public decency, licentious dancing, cross-dressing, wearing v-necks (!), etc, etc. – do you think the actual figure would be well into hundreds, or even thousands?

    Like this

    • It would be purely a guess, and not even a very educated guess, because there’s so little to go on — I would guess 100s. So little is known about what happens in Saudi Arabia, but I’ve seen an unconfirmed report of 100 actions against LGBT people in a year. Multiply that unconfirmed number by the number of other strict Muslim countries without a free press. Then add in detentions on pretexts such as those you list. We can easily imagine a total near 1000 or more.

      Like this

      • Charles says:

        I guess there’s far more than 1000… Much much more… So saying “19 in prison for being gay, 15 more awaiting trial” is just confusing and diminishing the importance.

        Like this

      • Hi, Charles,

        I almost agree with you. As the article stated, “Listing 37 people is probably an extreme understatement of the number of people who are behind bars or awaiting trial on anti-homosexuality charges, but finding out about specific cases is difficult, especially in countries without a free press.” But can you provide any specifics that the article could include? Conceivably a headline could say more, but it would need to be based on more than a guess.

        – Colin Stewart, editor of this blog

        Like this

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  28. Stand for something says:

    I agree with these laws. America was founded as a Christian nation. People today spit on our ancestors graves by letting this country fall apart the way it is. And now it the “in” thing to be homosexual or bisexual. I’m not the morality police but it doesn’t take a genius to know that homosexuality is immoral and unnatural. Now in America people are forced chemicals and endocrine disrupters hidden in food, drinks and “medicines” that is changing the male brain making them to act and think more feminine and inhibiting testosterone. More people then ever are becoming gay and it’s not because they were born that way.. Do your homework even animals frogs and polar bears are becoming transgender from the contaminants in the water.
    Each country and nation is its own and no other country really have no business interfering with another country’s laws but everyone knows Americans can’t mind their own business with their “white hero” complex. And that’s not racist “white hero” is an actual term. I don’t know that these people should be murdered but they certainly need to be told that it’s wrong.. When you break the law their are consequences, they knew the law and decided to break it but now they don’t want to deal with the concequences. Would this be a story if it was about people imprisoned for stealing food? Probably not a story, and yet food is a necessity, but having sexual intercourse out of lust is not a necessity and yet these lusty people chose to break the law and do so.. It’s not about love. I love my friends dearly but I would not engage in sexual acts with them. In short, this isn’t a story. Being gay is immoral and how a country deals with that is its own issue. You don’t see spokes people from other country’s coming to America to try to stop gay marriage, gay tv, gay agenda and the teaching of gay sex ed in our public elementary schools.. At least these other country’s stand for something… What do you stand for? You can’t be okay with everything because there is a difference between right and wrong and today nobody wants to hurt anyone’s feelings and just say no, but you have to, their has to be boundaries or else chaos will consume..

    Like this

    • Dean Roach says:

      Great article!!!!!!

      Like this

    • acmcomptia says:

      Very interesting opinion, “Stand for something”.
      Let’s not forget there is heterosexual lust too (e.g. pornography); also, is it lust if a man and a woman have a relationship when they are infertile so can’t have children?

      What I would like to know though is how these chemicals in food/drink/medicine are only turning a minority of people and animals homosexual. How do you explain that?

      Like this

    • James George says:

      Yes, lets all stand for bronze age ignorance and bigotry in a modern world that understands the very scientific reasons for homo sexuality. As you type away on your computer, hypocrite!

      Like this

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  31. bonut says:

    I LIKE GAYS
    AND WE SHOULD STAND UP FOR THEM

    Liked by 1 person

  32. bonut says:

    GAYS UNITED MAKE A STAND

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Pingback: UK Officials Restrain And Assault Blind Bisexual Asylum Seeker | International Political Forum

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