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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid