Right now, there are laws being passed in other countries that make it illegal to be LGBTQ or even be associated with supporting this community’s rights. Prison sentences, torture, and the death penalty are possible punishments for violating these laws. Although there are numerous laws being passed or already passed criminalizing homosexuality, we want to bring attention to what’s happening in Nigeria.
On January 7, 2014, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed into law the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which criminalizes same-sex marriage and relationships. With this law, gay and lesbian Nigerians engaging in same-sex “amorous relationships” face up to 14 years in prison. Persons involved in same-sex ceremonies, including guests whether straight or LGBTQ, could face 10 years in prison. Additionally, any person who directly or indirectly supports, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations can be sentenced to a term of 10 years imprisonment. Penalties will also be handed out for those who try to assist gay men and women avoid detection or even those who offer them sexual health services.
Since this bill was signed into law, more than 30 arrests have been made in the West African country. Additionally, numerous reports of escalating violence against the LGBTQ community have been reported. According to TIME World,
In Bauchi State, in northern Nigeria, police have reportedly arrested dozens of gay men in the past few weeks. The AP reports that police targeted gay men, tortured them into naming others, and are hunting more gay men down. Chairman Mustapha Baba Ilela told the AP that 11 men had been arrested and denies that torture was involved. Ilela said that members of the community helped “fish out” suspected gay men and the roundups will continue. “We are on the hunt for others,” he said.
The criminalization of same-sex relationships and increasing homophobia in many African countries has created an environment of fear among Africa’s LGBTQ community and allies.
Even the Christian who cannot feel comfortable supporting or protecting LGBTQ relationships should be appalled by the brutality to the community (and for that matter – brutality to any person as we are all made in the image of God.
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