Dozens arrested as Nigeria begins enforcing anti-gay law

Jan. 14, 2014 at 4:59 PM   |   Comments

ABUJA, Nigeria, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Dozens of gay men in Nigeria have been arrested as police begin to enforce the country's harsh new anti-gay law, human rights activists said.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act last week, criminalizing not only same-sex marriages but operating or encouraging membership in gay clubs, societies and organizations, the Guardian reported.

Dorothy Aken'Ova, executive director of the country's International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights, said police in one province have created a list of 168 men believed to be gay and have arrested more than 30 of them so far.

Gays face 14 years in prison if they are married and 10 years if they are found to violate any other tenants of the law.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry harshly criticized the law, saying it goes against the human rights progress the country has made.

"[The law] is inconsistent with Nigeria's international legal obligations and undermines the democratic reforms and human rights protections enshrined in its 1999 constitution," Kerry said. "People everywhere deserve to live in freedom and equality. No one should face violence or discrimination for who they are or who they love."

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