Islamic court ordered four men to be whipped after they were found guilty of homosexuality. The men accused were between the age of 22 to 28 and each received 15 lashes from horsewhips while being forced to lie on the floor in front of the court. These men also received a fine of nearly $125; if they cannot pay they will be sentenced to one year of imprisonment.
These four men were among a number of defendants formally charged in January by the Bauchi State Sharia Commission. At that time they were charged for receiving $150,000 in donations from the U.S. for a gay club’s membership drive.
Nigeria is split between the Christian South and the Muslim North. The Christians who live in the northern states have been a constant target for their faith. According to the executive director of the Jubilee Campaign, Ann Bulwalda, last year nearly 60 percent of Christians who have been killed for their religious beliefs worldwide were from Northern Nigeria.
Nigerian Sharia justice systems run parallel to secular courts in the North. Sharia courts observe the Islamic law. In January Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s President, signed into law a bill that banned membership of gay rights groups along with same-sex unions. He also commanded a 14-year sentence to prison for homosexual behavior. The law also provides federal backing of Sharia courts to enforce the anti-homosexuality legislation.
According to Abdul Mohammed, court clerk, the court session and the judgment rendered was kept secret from the public. The courts wanted to render the beatings and finalize the hearing before news flowed out into the city. During a trial in January an angry mob interrupted a trial, demanding that the men accused be put to death for their behavior. Since that time the Sharia court has sought to operate in privacy.
Since the new legislation passed there have been a series of arrests made surrounding homosexual acts. A 20-year-old man who allegedly had been mislead into sodomy by a teacher who vowed to financially assist him with his education was publicly beaten and fined after being convicted of homosexuality.
According to Dorothy Aken’Ova, Founder and Executive Director of International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights, says the four men should not have been convicted because they were forced to confess by the agents who beat them. She also said if they cannot pay their fines and are forced into prison they will likely face further violence. Aken’Ova’s organization is currently the only group in Nigeria working on sexual rights.
In the West African state homosexual acts are illegal under Islamic and secular law which also means it is illegal for same-sex couples to show any affection in Nigeria. Nigeria is a very conservative country; most of the people, whether Muslim or Christian, are opposed to homosexuality.
Although gay groups, same-sex marriages and displays of public affection from same-sex couples are now banned throughout Nigeria the judge did not impose the death penalty because the homosexual offences occurred some time ago and the men had already repented.
Islamic court ordered four men to be beaten after they were found guilty of homosexuality. The accused men received 15 lashes each from horsewhips in front of the court. They were also fined nearly $125 and if they cannot pay they may be sentenced to one year of imprisonment and subjected to further violence.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)