By Nathan James
In the weeks since Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed sweeping new legislation, colloquially termed the "Jail The Gays Law", a witch-hunt atmosphere has pervaded this central African nation.
Following initial reports of gay or suspected gay men being arrested by Islamic religious police in the country's northern provinces, and held for trials which could result in a sentence of death by stoning, disturbing stories of new incidences of mob rule are beginning to emerge from other parts of Nigeria.
Speaking to GBM News, Jessica Stern, Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), said, "We have been notified that 10 men, suspected to be gay, were rounded up and beaten last night in the town of Geshiri, near Abuja, by a mob of about 40 people." Stern added that five of the victims were taken to a police station and detained before their eventual release.
A second mob in Abuja reportedly dragged another 14 gay men from their beds into the street, where they were assaulted with iron bars and wooden clubs, according to the Associated Press. This group of victims was then arrested by local police, who "punched and kicked" them, and threatened them with the maximum 14 years' imprisonment under the harsh new law criminalizing homosexuality.
President Jonathan's office says 90% of the country's 170 million people "detest" homosexuality, and agree with the new law. Most of Nigeria's gays and lesbians have gone into hiding, says Stern, who noted "What we see in Nigeria is the sadly predictable breakdown of the rule of law that comes after such an anti-democratic law went into effect,
Regardless of what anyone thinks of homosexuality or transgenderism, the state has an obligation to ensure the safety of all Nigerians." However, Ifeanyi Orazulike, director of the International Center For
The right to Health, an African LGBT-rights group, says the walls of the victims' homes in Abuja have been spray-painted with the words, "homosexuals, pack up and leave." Stern appealed to the United Nations to intervene, saying "In this country, the state is the agent of persecution, as a matter of municipal law."