The anti-gay witch hunts continue in Nigeria, particularly in the country's Muslim-dominated north. Today, four young men in the northern state of Bauchi were convicted of the crime of gay sex by a sharia (Islamic) court and whipped publicly as punishment, the Associated Press reports:
The four were among dozens caught in a wave of arrests after Nigeria strengthened its criminal penalties for homosexuality with the new Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act in January.
The men could face further violence in prison if human rights organizations do not come up with an additional fine of 20,000 naira ($120) each meted out Thursday by a judge in Bauchi city, Dorothy Aken'Ova, convenor of the Coalition for the Defense of Sexual Rights Network, told The Associated Press. The four were sentenced to 15 strokes plus a year's imprisonment if they cannot pay their fines.
Aken'Ova said the men, aged between 20 and 22, should not have been convicted because their confessions were forced by law agents who beat them.
She said they had to lie on the floor of the court to be whipped on their backsides.
As we've reported previously here at Bilerico, Sharia law runs alongside civil law in the northern part of Nigeria. Under Sharia law homosexuality is punishable by death, but no executions have yet been reported. In today's case, the judge opted not to use the death sentence because the men claimed their homosexual acts occurred in the past and promised not to engage in them again.