Gay Men Publicly Stripped and Beaten in Nigeria
Since the passage of Nigeria’s newest anti-gay law, the Nigerian LGBT community has been subject to increasing violence and persecution, in addition to the danger of legal prosecution.
On March 24th, five men were stripped, beaten, and marched through the central streets of Warri, an industrial hub in southern Nigeria. According to local accounts, the men had met to engage in consensual—and illegal—sex, only to be blackmailed by one of the group’s associates. Despite threats to divulge their sexual orientation to police, the men rejected the blackmailer’s demands. Following the refusal, the men were reportedly stripped and whipped before the angry crowd and brought before the municipal authorities who ordered them to pay a substantial fine. The incident is yet another in a disturbing trend of mob attacks against an already victimized LGBT community.
This case reveals how legislation targeting sexual minorities engenders bias-motivated violence. These laws legitimize homophobia, providing an air of impunity for those who commit acts of violence.
President Goodluck Jonathan signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act in January, which established an up-to-14-year prison sentence for those participating in gay marriages and a five-year penalty for those who enable such ceremonies. The law worsened an already severe set of Nigerian anti-LGBT laws and drew the ire of the international community.
In response to such violence, the international community must continue to provide support for LGBT Nigerians, and continue to apply pressure on President Jonathan and his cabinet to repeal the discriminatory legislation.