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Nigeria: Gay Men Dragged from Beds, Brutally Beaten by Angry Mob

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a draconian anti-gay law that punishes 'offenders' with up to 14 years in prison. (Photo: South African government)

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a draconian anti-gay law that punishes ‘offenders’ with up to 14 years in prison. (Photo: South African government)

An angry anti-gay mob rampaged through Nigeria’s capital, dragging men suspected of being homosexuals from their homes and brutally beating them with wooden clubs and iron bars.

Associated Press reports human rights activists said 14 suspected gays were viciously assaulted in Abuja early Thursday morning. Shouting that they were going to “cleanse” their neighborhood of gay people, the 40 or so rampaging men pulled the 14 victims from their beds before beating them.

Four of the men were seriously injured in the mob attack. They were treated at a human rights group’s clinic out of fear of being further harmed in a hospital.

Dorothy Aken’Ova, executive director of Nigeria’s International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights, told the AP she stayed up all night trying to get police and Civil Defense authorities to aid victims of the the mob attack but that “instead of helping them, apparently some of them were arrested.”

Ifeanyi Orazulike of the rights group International Center for Advocacy for the Right to Health said four of the men were taken to a nearby police station, where they were allegedly punched and kicked by officers, a charge a police spokesman pledged to investigate.

A senior police officer later ordered the four men released, saying they had not been caught having sex.

Orazulike said police threatened to jail the men for 14 years, which is the applicable sentence for those found guilty of being openly gay under a measure signed into law last month by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.

The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act bans and criminalizes gay marriages and civil unions, overt displays of homosexuality and gay rights organizations and advocacy. The measure enjoys the support of an overwhelming majority of Nigerians.

Mob ‘justice’ is common in Nigeria. Last month, seven men arrested and put on trial for alleged gay ‘offenses’ were set upon outside a courthouse by a large group of Muslims who accused them of breaking Islamic law, which, like Christianity, forbids gay sex.

“As soon as the suspects emerged from the courtroom to get into the waiting prison van, a crowd of people in their hundreds began hurling stones and insults,” Abdul Mohammed, a clerk of the Bauchi State Sharia Court in the northern city of Bauchi, told Agence France-Presse.

The mob was reportedly frustrated at the slow pace of court proceedings and wanted a speedy trial and conviction. Police fired shots in the air and used tear gas to disperse the angry crowd.

Under Islamic law, the defendants in the trial face execution if convicted, although such sentences are rarely carried out. A week earlier, the same court sentenced a man convicted of homosexual ‘offenses’ to be whipped 20 times in public. He was also fined the equivalent of about $30.

The United States Embassy expressed its “concern” over the attacks.

“Since the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act was signed, we have expressed concern as a friend of Nigeria that it might be used by some to justify violence against Nigerians based on their orientation,” the embassy said in a statement on Friday. “Recent attacks in Abuja deepen our concern on this front.”

Ambassador James F. Entwistle, however, recently took to Nigerian radio to assure listeners that the US would not suspend or reduce aid to the oil-rich African nation of 169 million people because of its draconian anti-gay law, legislation that mirrors measures passed in other African countries like Uganda, Gambia, Kenya, Malawi, South Sudan, Zambia and the Seychelles. In Tanzania and Sierra Leone, homosexuality is punishable by up to life in prison. In Sudan and Mauritania, gay ‘crimes’ can result in legal execution. In Algeria and parts of Somalia, vigilante executions sometimes occur. Overall, anti-gay laws exist in 38 of Africa’s 54 nations, and in 83 countries worldwide.

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