Anti-gay violence broke out today in Nigeria in the wake of the enactment of the country’s new “Jail the Gays” law and the arrests of up to 68 alleged homosexuals.
The Associated Press reported:
Thousands of protesters threw stones into the Shariah court in a north Nigerian city Wednesday, urging the speedy convictions and executions of 11 men arrested for belonging to gay organizations.
Security officials fired into the air to disperse protesters in Bauchi city so the accused men could be safely returned to the prison. Judge El-Yakubu Aliyu closed the court abruptly.
“No one can be sentenced to death until confirmed without a reasonable doubt,” Aliyu said in response to calls for the men’s execution.
The court was arraigning seven of 11 accused men on Wednesday. Only three had given testimony when the mayhem began.
The defense counsel was unable to submit an application for bail, and the rest of the defendants were unable to give testimony. It was unclear when the arraignments would resume.
In 12 Nigerian states in the north, sharia law and the national law both apply.
For homosexual activity, sharia law allows lashing or imprisonment for women, death by stoning for men. However, capital punishment for homosexual activity has not been reported recently.
The new national law, signed Jan. 7 by President Goodluck Jonathan, provides for prison sentences of 10 years for Nigerians belonging to a gay organization, supporting same-sex marriages, or displaying same-sex affection in public. It also calls for up to 14 years in prison for any Nigerian who marries a member of the same sex. Those provisions are in addition to the 14-year prison sentences for homosexual activity already provided under Nigerian law.
The sharia court in Bauchi last week sentenced a man, 20, to whipping for sodomy, which he admitted occurred once seven years ago. He expressed relief that he had not been sentenced to death by stoning, as he has expected. The court said its sentence was lenient because the man had “since repented.”
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