An Islamic court in northern Nigeria on Thursday ordered four men to be flogged with horsewhips after being found guilty of homosexuality.
The men, aged between 22 and 28, were also fined 20,000 naira (90 euros) after a secret trial at the Upper Sharia Court in the Unguwar Jaki district of the city of Bauchi, a court clerk told the AFP news agency.
Each received 15 lashes carried out in front of the court after sentencing. The four men were forced to lie on the floor of the court to be whipped on their backsides, according to Dorothy Aken’Ova, convenor of the Coalition for the Defense of Sexual Rights Network, who had spoken with the men’s families.
Court clerk Abdul Mohammed said the case was concluded behind closed doors for security reasons after an angry mob attacked the court when the men had first stood trial on January 23, demanding they be executed and forcing the hearing to be suspended.
"The four... on trial were sentenced to 15 strokes and fined 20,000 naira ($125) by the court and the sentence was immediately carried out," Mohammed said.
"The court session was kept secret from the public and the judgment given and executed before the news filtered into the city," he said.
The court would adopt a similar strategy on three pending cases, he added.
The four men were among a number of 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.
Four others were brought before a separate Islamic court on the same charges, while a Christian suspect was presented before a secular, state court.
The Sharia justice system runs parallel to secular courts in some of Nigeria’s northern states
Aken’Ova told the AP news agency that the defendants should not have been convicted because their confessions were forced by law agents who beat them.
She warned that they could face further violence in prison should they be unable to pay their fines, which would result in a year behind bars.
The arrests and formal charges came days after it was confirmed that Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan had signed a bill into law banning gay marriage and same-sex unions.
The law, which carries a maximum 14-year prison term for anyone entering such unions and up to 10 years in jail for supporting gay groups and clubs, provoked international condemnation.
There has been a wave of arrests since the passing of the legislation, which reinforces existing laws criminalising homosexuality and gives the Sharia authorities federal backing to enforce anti-gay laws.
A 20-year-old man was flogged in public and fined 5,000 naira on January 16 after being convicted of homosexuality.
He claimed he had been "deceived into sodomy" by a school teacher who had promised to support his education financially.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and AP)
Date created : 2014-03-07