There has been public criticism and "mixed feelings" after a Nigerian actor was sentenced to three months in prison after admitting to having sex with another man, reports The Vanguard, a well-respected independent daily based in Lagos. Some have publicly called the sentence "barbaric."
Twenty-eight-year-old Bestwood Chukwuemeka—an actor in movies produced by the nation's well-known "Nollywood" film industry—reportedly had a sexual encounter in August with another man while he was intoxicated. The other man "informed the police" who promptly arrested Chukwuemeka. The Abuja man eventually pleaded guilty to charges of "unnatural offences" and "homosexuality".
While some Nigerians hailed the judgment of the court, very many others frowned at it, arguing that imprisonment of the up and coming actor was “barbaric and unacceptable to the people.”
According to those, who went online to express their feelings, being a homosexual should not be a crime punishable by law. One writes: "As far as I am concerned whether gay, bisexual or straight and as long as it is two consenting adults or individuals, love is love and a family is a family. I find it disheartening that this is what this country has come to. Who are we to judge a man for sleeping with another man?"
"If he raped the man in question, then he should be locked up. If it was consensual sex between two willing adults, then, they should let him go. As usual, Nigerians will conveniently call it a disgusting sin, leaving out the part that says promiscuous girls should be stoned to death and men shouldn’t shave ever." writes one Mark Francis.
Prosecutions related to homosexuality are rare in Africa's most populous country. Under existing federal law, sodomy is punishable by jail. Twelve Islamic states in northern Nigeria have introduced the draconian Sharia law that has sentenced several gays to death. However, these death sentences have never been enforced.
Since 2007, the National Assembly has introduced several proposed versions of extreme anti-gay legislation. A draconian bill passed last year by the Senate goes beyond merely banning same-sex marriage—which is already illegal—and would ban same sex relationships, ban same sex couples from living together, ban pro-LGBT websites or groups and prosecute their friends or human rights activists. The bill has since stalled under international pressure. Previous versions of the bill banned gays from meeting, living together, reading LGBT websites or even going out to dinner.
Same-sex acts are currently illegal in at least 38 of 54 African countries. Four nations—Mauritania, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan—boast the death penalty for gays or same-sex activity. South Africa and Seychelles are the only African nations that protect LGBT rights. But the reality is much different for many Black gay South Africans. Brutal so-called "corrective rape" and murder are increasing against lesbians in SA's townships, as well as rape and attacks against gay men.
Some Background ...
Nigerian Actor Sentenced for "Unnatural Offences"
"Daily Sun" Warns "Homosexuals in Trouble"
NIGERIA: Activists Harassed During Testimony
Nigeria Advances Extreme Anti-Gay Bill
NIGERIA: Hearings Begin on Extreme Legislation
Nigerian Village Vows to "Stone Any Homosexual"
EU Considers Suspending Aid to Nigeria
Nigerian Legislators Vote to Ban Gay Marriages
EU: Level of Homophobia in Nigeria "Unacceptable"
Nigerian Mob Attacks Gay Activist
Nigerian Lynch Mob Storms Jail
Nigeria: 18 Gays Face Death Penalty
Nigerian Lesbian In Hiding After Reported Wedding
Nigeria's Homophobia Threatens Bid for Games
Nigeria One Step Closer to Outlawing Gays