Four Nigerian men were beaten and flogged for being gay by an Islamic court in the northern city of Bauchi, according to the Liberty Voice. The men, who were among a group of people arrested late last year, had their confessions of being homosexual allegedly forced out of them after they had been beaten up in custody. The men, along with a few others, were reportedly accused of belonging to a gay club and receiving $150,000 in donations from the United States for an apparent membership drive.
The men, who have not been identified, range in age from 22 to 28. The court-mandated punishment required each of the men to lie on the floor and receive 15 lashes from horse whips across their backsides, according to Dorothy Aken’Ova, the executive director of the Coalition for the Defense of Sexual Rights Network, who spoke to France 24. The men were also required to pay $125 for their crime, and if they cannot come up with the payment, they will be facing a year in prison. According to Aken’Ova, whose organization is currently the only group working on sexual rights in Nigeria, the men could face further violence in prison as well.
Court Clerk Abdul Mohammed revealed that the court’s ruling and execution of punishment against the men was kept under wraps so that it could all be carried out before the public got wind of it. The men’s court trial, however, was interrupted by an angry mob who were calling for the defendants to be executed on January 23. The presiding judge, however, did not impose a death penalty on the men because their homosexual offenses had occurred some time ago and the men had publicly repented.
The act of homosexuality is illegal in the West African country under both Islamic and secular law. Same-sex couples are forbidden to show any affection in the conservative country. In addition, most of the country’s residents, whether Muslim or Christian, are vehemently opposed to homosexuality.
In January, Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan signed a bill into law that mandated a 14-year prison sentence for homosexual behavior and also banned membership in gay rights groups. Gay rights supporters could also receive up to 10 years in prison, according to the law. Since the new legislation passed, there have been a series of arrests made surrounding homosexual acts.