News / Africa

Nigeria Arrests Gays Under Controversial New Law

Nigeria Arrests Gays Under Controversial New Lawi
X
January 22, 2014 12:21 AM
Since President Goodluck Jonathan signed a popular anti-gay bill into law, hostility towards gays in Nigeria has continued to escalate. Activists say arrests are being made and they are hearing reports of mob violence. For VOA, Heather Murdock has more from Abuja.
Heather Murdock
Since President Goodluck Jonathan signed a wildly popular anti-gay bill into law earlier this month, hostility towards gays in Nigeria continues to escalate.  Activists say arrests are being made and they are hearing reports of mob violence.
 
About half of Nigerians are Muslim and half are Christian.  Recently, the two religions have come together in support of a new law that criminalizes gay organizations and punishes gay marriage with up to 14 years in prison.
 
At a shimmering church in the capital city, Pastor Simon A.S. Dolly, the president of the Youth Wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria, says the law will protect Nigeria from the wrath of God.
 
"Nigeria is a religious country and we are religious people," he said. "We agree with the president on this issue.  I think this is one of the best things the president has done this year for us.  Because we are a cultured people as Africans and to us, man marrying man, woman marrying woman - it’s uncultured.”
 
Western governments and rights organizations have widely condemned the law, saying it violates rights guaranteed by Nigerian and international law and has led to “witch hunts.”
 
Human rights defender Ifeanyi Orazulike says it has always been illegal and dangerous to be gay in Nigeria, but the law has lead to a surge of hostility.
 
“People are being arrested in different states," he said. "There has also been lots of hate-speeches coming from religious leaders and the general population.”

Eleven men are on trial in northern Nigeria under the law and Amnesty International says arrests have been made in four other states, with police working off long lists of names.
 
Orazulike says a small network of activists in Nigeria are trying to keep each other safe and gain support through awareness campaigns on Twitter and Facebook.

“We are always on the alert," he said. "We are talking here and there, making phone calls, confirming to be sure that people are okay wherever they are and following up situations.”

Activists say that because the law criminalizes anyone who provides services for gays or supports gay groups, the list of people who could be arrested under the law is long and varied.
 
In a sprawling slum in central Nigeria, a rights activist who doesn’t want to be named for safety reasons, says he's heard reports of mob violence against gays as religious and political leaders speak publicly in support of the bill.

He also says the law could have other negative consequences for Nigeria, like increasing HIV rates among gay men, and eventually the general population.  
 
“You’re driving them more underground.  They are not able to access health services," he said. "And the few, few, very few, few, handful of organizations that are actually even trying to provide this support, like HIV treatment or awareness education to the gay community will also go underground.”
 
As Nigeria battles insurgency in the north, and militancy in the south, he says, the passing of this law appears to be a political move in advance of elections next year.
 
Supporters of the law say it reflects the will of the Nigerian people and the will of God.

You May Like

Beloved Lion Killing Sparks Virtual, Real Life Outrage

Twitter, as usual, was epicenter for anger directed at Palmer, with some questioning his manhood, calling for him to be released into the wild More

Video Booming London Property Market a Haven for Dirty Money

Billions of dollars from proceeds of crime, especially from Russia, being laundered through London property market, according to anti-corruption activists More

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

One former Scout leader thinks organization will move past political, social debate, get back to its primary focus of turning boys into good citizens More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs