Four men Flogged in Nigeria for Homosexuality

An Islamic Court in Nigeria Found Four Nigerians Guilty of "Homosexuality" and ordered flogged with horsewhips after conviction in a trial held in secret at the Upper Sharia Court in the Unguwar Jaki district of the city of Baluchi.

The four men, aged 22 to 28 years, each was and fined 20,000 naira ($125) and received 15 lashes - also in secret - immediately after the trial.

The four were among seven defendants formally charged by the Bauchi State Sharia Commission on January 6 with belonging to a gay club and receiving $150,000 in donations from the United States for an apparent membership drive. After angry mobs swarmed the opening of the trial, demanding their immediate execution and forcing earlier proceedings to be suspended, the court decided to reconvene and hold the trial and carry out the sentence in secret.

The arrests and trial came only days after Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan had signed a bill banning gay marriage and same-sex unions and criminalising other actions deemed to be 'promoting' homosexuality. The law provides a maximum 14-year prison term for anyone entering same-sex unions and up to 10 years in jail for anyone supporting gay groups and clubs. Many believed the arrests were spurred by the new legislation, providing the Sharia authorities with federal cover to target homosexual behavior.

Sharia law actually makes homosexual behavior a capital offense by stoning if the act is observed by four male witnesses or voluntarily confessed. However, the judge noted that since the alleged behavior was not actually observed by any witnesses to the court, there was no legal basis for passing the death sentence, despite confessions made by two of the defendants.