By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/8/2014 (1 year ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Four men have been found guilty of homosexual behavior by an Islamic court in northern Nigeria on March 6.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The men, aged between 20 and 22 were sentenced to a public whipping and could face further penalties of up to a year in prison if a fine 20,000 naira (US $120) levied against them by the court, is not paid up.
Dorothy Aken'Ova, convenor of the Coalition for the Defense of Sexual Rights Network, said that the men had their confessions beaten out of them, and where forced to lie down in the court room to be whipped.
This occurred as part of strengthening efforts by Nigeria to eliminate gay behavior and individuals, part of which was the creation of the country's new Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act in January of 2014. These four men were arrested along with dozens of others during a surge of police activity in relation to this new law.
In certain northern regions of Nigeria, Islamic Shariah law allows for the executions of homosexuals by either stoning or lethal injections, though no individuals have faced this sentence currently.
The court hearing had been suspended from January because a crowd swarmed the courthouse and attempted to stone the individuals. These crowds weren't dispersed until security officials fired warning shots into the air to save the four men.
The families of the accused chose not to seek legal representation, and instead have decided to negotiate with the court officials to put this case behind. The judge also decided to be lenient because the four men said that these actions had occurred in the past, and that they had changed their ways.
El-Yakub Aliyu, the judge in charge of the case decided to hold the hearing on March 6 in order to avoid disruptions. Another case against another four men charged with sodomy will be heard on a later date.