By Melanie Nathan, January 22, 2014.
AP in BAUCHI, Nigeria, is reporting on the increasing anti-gay violence against Nigerians perceived as being gay. Apparently, thousands of protesters showed up at a Shariah court in a north Nigerian city Wednesday, throwing stones at the Court while yelling for the convictions and executions of 11 men arrested for belonging to gay organizations to be sped up.
They report that security officials:
“fired into the air to disperse protesters in Bauchi city so the accused men could be safely returned to the prison. Judge El-Yakubu Aliyu closed the court abruptly.”
“No one can be sentenced to death until confirmed without a reasonable doubt,” Aliyu said in response to calls for the men’s execution.
Given the mayhem one wonders if these men can be given a fair trial; and then one wonders what is a fair trial when laws are unjust and based on myth and lies about homosexuality, with religious fervor thrown in.
This is an awful quandary as one notes many in the world have continued to be silent on this issue – steering clear of interfering in laws promulgated by sovereign countries, with many afraid to speak out against it because of the religious aspect attached to the Muslim faith.
The protestors showed up outside the Court at a hearing where court seven of 11 accused men on Wednesday were being arraigned. Only three had given testimony when the protest began.
The defense counsel was unable to submit an application for bail, and the rest of the defendants were unable to give testimony. It was unclear when the arraignments would resume, according to the AP reporter.
“The same court last week convicted a young man of sodomy and had him publicly whipped with 20 lashes, and fined before being freed. The court said it was lenient, sparing him the sentence of death by stoning, as he had confessed to one instance of sodomy many years ago and had not committed any homosexual acts since. Though he was tried under Islamic law, his was the first conviction of a gay man in Nigeria since the president signed a bill that further criminalizes homosexuality under the penal code. He was among 12 arrested in Bauchi the past few weeks.”
The AP Report notes further:
The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that President Goodluck Jonathan signed on Jan. 7 has resulted in a frenzy of arrests of gays. The law bans all gay associations, with penalties up to 14 years’ imprisonment for marriage.
Bauchi state has both a Western-style penal code and Shariah, or Islamic law, in which sodomy can carry the death sentence with a judge deciding whether it should be done by a public stoning or by lethal injection. Shariah law is implemented to different degrees in nine of Nigeria’s 36 states. About half of the country’s more than 160 million people are Muslims, the other half Christians.
The law has earned international condemnation but for the most part the world has barely raised its voice.
I am asking what we here in the United States are doing to help this situation.
As far as out LGBt organizations are concerned, I wrote to Chad Griffin at Human Rights Campaign, asking for action and he did not respond to my e-mail. The group GetEQUAL responded by saying that they were waiting to hear from Nigerian activists on the ground. (??) My question is how can we hear from activists on the ground when they are in hiding, terrified, being rounded up or facing the Judge and a stone throwing crowd of religious fanatics who disrupted their trial. Other groups did not respond.
I currently have a list of Nigerian gay people in hiding trying to leave Nigeria. I have not funding to help. If you are able to provide any financial support please contact me at [email protected]. We are seeking to place people in Safe Housing, and to help them cross borders.