A 70-year-old man and two other gay men were sentenced to death by stoning in Bauchi, Nigeria. The accused were charged and convicted for engaging in acts of homosexuality. They were arrested by the religious police force of the state on June 14.
Judge Munka'ilu Sabo of the Islamic Sharia court sentenced the three men to death by stoning under section 134 of the Bauchi State Penal Law, "Whoever commits the offense of sodomy shall be punished with death by stoning or any other means decided by the state." However, in the Nigerian state, the death penalties passed by the Sharia courts need the governor's approval to be executed.
The religious police in the Ningi local government, Bauchi, arrested the men on June 14. According to the Hisbah religious police official, Adam Dan Kafi, the three men were accused of raping two minor boys after drugging them. In Nigeria, having sex with a minor is also an offense punishable by death but has never been enforced. The men were instead charged for engaging in homosexual acts.
Kafi said, "The Upper Sharia Court One in Ningi handed down the death sentence on the three men for committing homosexual acts with two brothers aged 10 and 12."
The incident happened in the Gwada village in May. The parents of the two boys had complained about the three men. Religious police or the Hisbah arrested them soon after.
None of the three accused had any legal representatives during the trial. They eventually confessed to their crimes.
Nigeria is thought to be amongst the most homophobic countries in the world. Homosexuality is considered a severe crime punishable by imprisonment for up to 14 years. In the northern parts of the country, with the Muslim majority states that follow the Islamic Sharia law, engaging in homosexual acts can result in being stoned to death. However, in practice, those who are convicted can also end up getting flogged.
In 2014, an anti-gay law was enacted that explicitly prohibits same-sex marriage, preventing not only same-sex relationships but also any signs of having same-sex affection in public. The law also prohibits the citizen from being a member of LGBT groups. These laws that ban homosexuality in men and women are remnants of British colonial rule. In the last decades, these laws have been heavily enforced.
Same-sex relationships are illegal in more than half of all African countries. The people belonging to the LGBT community in the country face discrimination. Changing your gender is also unlawful.
But despite the risk of getting arrested, many activists had tried to speak out and demand change for years.
In June this year, many celebrated Pride month in the country. Events like these have grown in number and size over the last few years, although most are held behind closed doors due to legal and security concerns. This year's celebrations centered around the week-long Pride in Lagos, which included art exhibits and a drag contest.