Friday, January 17, 2014

Gays to be jailed in Nigeria

Hundreds of men arrested and tortured by police as legislation criminalising homosexuality takes effect. It is the new law against fundamental freedoms.  It will affect health-care services to 3.4 million Nigerians living with HIV/AIDS as they will now be afraid to seek treatment in case people think they are gay.

In Nigeria a gay man has been lashed 20 times - the first conviction for sodomy since President Goodluck Jonathan signed a law criminalising homosexuality earlier this week. It contains harsh penalties for homosexual activity and membership in gay rights groups. “Persons who enter into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union commit an offence and are each liable on conviction to a term of 14 years in prison,” the law says. “Any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison.”

Dorothy Aken'Ova, with the Nigeria-based International Centre for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights, told the BBC, "What this act is saying is that they gay people do not deserve to exist,"

European Union Managing Director for Africa, Dr. Nicholas Westcott, has said "We are concerned about the human rights and freedoms of all Nigerians as enshrined in Nigeria's own constitution and as enshrined in international conventions to which Nigeria is a party. And our concern is that this Act contravenes some of those provisions and puts at risk some of the fundamental freedoms that all Nigerian people should enjoy - the freedom of expression, the freedom of association, etc. That is our concern.”

The High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, Catherine Ashton, in a statement in Abuja yesterday, said "I am, therefore, particularly concerned that some provisions of the Act appear to be in contradiction with those fundamental rights, which are themselves guaranteed by Nigeria's 1999 Constitution, and to be inconsistent with the legal obligations enshrined in a number of international agreements to which Nigeria is a party,"

UK Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, Jeremy Wright, said: “The UK opposes any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The Bill also directly infringes on fundamental rights of expression and association, which are guaranteed by the Nigerian constitution and by Nigeria's international treaty obligations. We are concerned by the prospect this raises of further action against an already marginalised section of society."

An Islamic court in Nigeria's northern state of Bauchi has put on trial 11 Muslim men accused of being homosexuals in violation of their religion, a religious leader has told the BBC. Under Islamic law, a person can be sentenced to death by stoning if convicted of homosexuality.

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