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Dozens arrested for being gay in North Nigeria

Nigeria Anti Gay Law

By: Michelle Faul

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) - Police, working off a list of 168 suspects purportedly obtained through torture, are arresting dozens of gay men in Nigeria's northern Bauchi state, human rights activists said Tuesday.

A new law in Nigeria, dubbed the "Jail the Gays" bill, is encouraging the persecution of gays and will endanger programs fighting HIV-AIDS in the gay community, said Dorothy Aken'Ova, executive director of Nigeria's International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights.

On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan's office confirmed that the Nigerian leader signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that criminalizes gay marriage, gay organizations and anyone working with or promoting them.

In Bauchi state, police entrapped four gay men and tortured them into naming others, Aken'Ova said. She said the police have drawn up a list of 168 wanted gay men, of whom 38 have been arrested in recent weeks.

She said the arrests began during the Christmas holidays and blamed "all the noise that was going on surrounding the (same sex marriage prohibition) bill."

The chairman of Bauchi state Shariah Commission, Mustapha Baba Ilela, told the AP that 11 men have been arrested in the past two weeks and charged with belonging to a gay organization. He denied anyone had been tortured and said all 11 - 10 Muslims and a non-Muslim - signed confessions that they belonged to a gay organization but that some of them retracted the statements when they were charged by a judge.

Shariah is Islamic law, which is implemented to different degrees in nine of 36 states.

An AIDS counselor told The Associated Press he helped get bail for the men and also said a total of 38 were arrested. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear he would be arrested. Aken'Ova's organization is providing legal services for them.

The AIDS counselor said the arrests were sparked by a rumor that the United States paid $20 million to gay activists to promote same-sex marriage in this highly religious and conservative nation.

The United States, Britain and Canada condemned the new law in Africa's most populous nation, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying Monday that it "dangerously restricts freedom" of expression and association of all Nigerians.

Jonathan's spokesman said the president signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act on Jan. 7, providing penalties of up to 14 years in jail for a gay marriage and up to 10 years' imprisonment for membership or encouragement of gay club, societies and organizations.

The U.N. agency to fight AIDS and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria expressed "deep concern that access to HIV services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people will be severely affected by a new law in Nigeria - further criminalizing LGBT people, organizations and activities, as well as people who support them."

The law also criminalizes people and groups who support "the registration, operation and sustenance of gay clubs, societies and organizations, processions or meetings in Nigeria." Those convicted could be jailed for 10 years.

UNAIDS said the law could harm Jonathan's own presidential initiative to fight AIDS, started a year ago.

It said Nigeria has the second largest HIV epidemic globally with an estimated 3.4 million people living with HIV. The disease affects many more gay men than heterosexuals, with 2010 statistics estimating national HIV prevalence at 4 percent compared to 17 percent among gay men, according to UNAIDS.

Jonathan has not publicly expressed his views on homosexuality.

His spokesman, Reuben Abati, told The Associated Press on Monday night, "This is a law that is in line with the people's cultural and religious inclination. So it is a law that is a reflection of the beliefs and orientation of Nigerian people. ... Nigerians are pleased with it."


Associated Press writer Shehu Saulawa contributed to this report from Bauchi, Nigeria.

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JAYKING53 January 15 2014 at 12:30 PM

But what if i don't believe in that story of adam and eve....youre going by a book! I think eveybody has a right to choose who they wanna be...it has nothing to do with jesus and moses who livedfor 800 years by the way (who wants to live that long)...our constitution was created to validate our principal rights, the simplicity of just bein human...we can not arrest people because they choose to be gay! It is wrong! But it is also wrong to accept two people of the same sex in marriage. marriage was created to glorify family, unity moral values...

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johngwc January 15 2014 at 12:02 PM

Nigeria has so much crime, and fraud, that to target the minority of gays for their personal lifestyle is ludicrous. The Muslims in Nigeria keep killing the Christians. Their soldiers keep killing the Muslims. People I knew who went their for business purposes swore that they would never go back.
In fact, the crimes are committed by heterosexuals, as 99% of crimes around the world are. When I read this I thought of Adolph Hitler, a mentally sick, depraved man, and what he did to the Jews and gays.

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blackrose_04 January 15 2014 at 11:59 AM

Im gay I have always been and always will b. Its not a damnd choice n Jonathan can kiss my ass....he just as ignorant as those that waist their to actually go and look for the lgbt. This law is the dumbest :)

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carljohnson994 January 15 2014 at 10:20 AM

I do not believe that people should be gay but, that is every ones choice. No government has the right to restrict the peoples rights. If the US and other countries would cut off aid to Nigeria in protest of this bill, Nigeria would come around. Not only that but the torture is unacceptable.

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LA is Best January 15 2014 at 9:47 AM

Maybe the "closet" would be safer for this perversion!

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LA is Best January 15 2014 at 9:42 AM

Nigeria is way ahead of the US!

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clovercuts January 15 2014 at 9:40 AM

Is it wrong for me to suggest there be a new country formed just for gay people. It could be called Gaytopia. North Gaytopia would be for men and south Gaytopia for women. But there would have to be a central Gaytopia for the greedys. Those would be the one's that swing both ways and for those that just like to dress up like the other team. Just think of all the fabulous parties.

It certainly would be a safer place to live. No marriages, no religion, no pregnancies, no self righteous bigots. no hate, no diamond rings and no egos.......wait, it wont work..... who would fix things when they break and who would takes sides in a fight....... I see to many problems here.

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1 reply to clovercuts's comment
Mr Money January 15 2014 at 1:49 PM

the new country can be called Upper Colon and the capital can be called Postateboro

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Marc January 15 2014 at 9:20 AM

"Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest."
- Denis Diderot

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fasakinolawale January 15 2014 at 9:19 AM

What benefits does LGBT acts provide for the society? What good do they serve? Afterall, 17% of Nigerian gay men are AIDS/HIV positive. Does it not clearly show it's a path to self destruct?
If people just understand that most of these LGBT people really need help and counseling, it will help the world a lot!
I have carefully followed the stories of those who claim to be any of LGBT over the years and have not seen any of them that stand out as extraordinary, anyone can correct me!
For all who say it's (LGBT peoples) wiring or genetic make up, most people are wired to have sex, why doesn't everyone have it on the highway?
Some people are wired to "smoke" dope, why do they go to prison?
Some people are wire to kill with guns, why does the law make their so called "wiring" illegal?
You can think of thieves as being wired so, afterall, it's in their gene, yet it is a criminal act that is punishable under the law. Why should aberration of nature be different?
If all people of the world choose to be any of the LBGT, how do the future generation come?
And moreover, why should anyone want all countries to go same way?
Americans have guns to commits homicide every now and then, but why doesn't every other country follow?
Some European countries legalized prostitution, why doesn't every country legalize it? How much different is it from LGBT?
People need to stop making mountain out of a mole hill, they should keep themselves busy with something else.
LGBT people really need help!!!

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2 replies to fasakinolawale's comment
Amnesty January 16 2014 at 2:37 AM

You're ignorant. What percentage of Nigerian NON-gay poulation are HIV positive? Nigeria has about the second largest HIV/AIDS population in the world - from only 17% LGBT. Countries with a much higher LGBT (out) count, have a much lower HIV/AIDS count - including the US. So, that connection is tenuous at best, and stupid at worst!
Also, why does my personal lifestyle and choices have to benefit society? What standard is that? What societal benefit does smoking have? Is it illegal?? Are we throwing smokers in jail?
Your simple-minded examples overlook one important point - all of these acts actually cause a direct HARM to society. That's what the law is for - to prevent/prohibit things that actually pose harm to others. NOT to legislate anyone's personal life!
It's not a "mountain out of a molehill". Let's see what happens when the stupids that run these backward countries try to legislate somethiing that actually touches YOUR life!
YOU really need help!

(From a heterosexual - just in case anyone wants to make an argument that only LGBT's are offended by this act!)

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1 reply to Amnesty's comment
nedu2008 February 02 2014 at 4:06 PM

You are the one who really need the help. Every sovereign country has the right to legislate how its people should live. If where ever you come condone such evil acts, good for you. But Nigeria and other countries alike will not condone such. I bet Nigeria is not a place for you to consider residing.

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nedu2008 February 02 2014 at 4:07 PM

Well said fasakinolawale..

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brucemar1960 January 15 2014 at 8:49 AM

The chairman of Bauchi state "Shariah" Commission, Mustapha Baba Ilela, told the AP that 11 men have been arrested in the past two weeks and charged with belonging to a gay organization......
I have a good idea let's boycott Israel...............duh.

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