Mob attacks on people known or believed to be gay are intensifying in the west African country of Nigeria, one month after the country's president signed a sweeping and draconian law criminalizing virtually every aspect of LGBT public life.
The New York Times reports that gay people in the capital city of Abuja are being dragged from their homes and beaten with nail-studded clubs and whips as part of an effort to "cleanse" the country of homosexuality:
[One] attack took place late Wednesday night in the Gishiri neighborhood, and one victim was beaten nearly to death, [a] witness said. Afterward, the mob of about 50 young men dragged four of the victims to a nearby police station, where the police further beat and insulted them, said the witness, who gave his name as John. His last name is being withheld for his safety...
In Abuja, the witness and the activists said, some in the mob were shouting, "We are working for Jonathan!" About 14 young men were assaulted, the activists said, and no members of the mob were arrested. "They all had weapons," John said. "Some were having wires, whips. Some had broken furniture. They said they wanted to kill. They were moving around from one person's house to another."
John said he was cowering in his apartment, extinguishing his candle and hiding as the mob tried to break down his door. "I heard them beating one guy up," he said. "The guy was pleading with them and begging them. They beat until he could not fight back."
John says that at the station, the police participated in the violence, slapping and beating the men, calling them names, and accusing them of spreading HIV. They also threatened them with incarceration. A healthcare worker who knows some of the victims says they are in hiding and don't dare to speak to reporters because they fear for their lives. "They were told 'If you come back, we will kill you,'" he said.
A second attack reportedly terrorized the neighborhood on Saturday. Details, after the jump.