There are promising reports from northern Nigeria. At least two men charged under the West African's nation's extreme anti-gay law—which bans same-sex relationships and membership in pro-gay organizations—have been released by Islamic judicial authorities, acording to the Associated Press.
The two were among the more than one dozen suspected gay men detained in Bauchi state in early January. Police, prosecutors, clerics and the media fueled a violent anti-gay climate across the nation after President Goodluck Jonathan secretly signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act on January 7. The penalties are harsh and are include up to 14-years in prison.
The shariah court ... freed two men accused of gay sex and belonging to a homosexual club, saying the prosecution failed to prove its case. Five of the men have been found guilty and were sentenced to fines and public whippings in the court. [T]he judge freed a 29-year-old street vendor and a 21-year-old artisan. The Shariah trials have been held in secret since a mob tried to lynch the men at a court hearing, demanding they be stoned to death.
The seven were among a dozen men formally charged by the Bauchi State Sharia Commission on 6 January with belonging to a gay club and having received funding from the United States for an apparent membership drive.
Four others were convicted on 6 March, fined 20 000 naira ($125) each and given 15 lashes with a horse whip as what the judge termed a discretionary "correctional punishment". A Christian suspect is having his case heard before a secular court.
Sodomy was previously outlawed under existing federal law in Africa's most populous nation. Twenty-four of Nigeria's 36 states punish same-sex acts with up to 14 years imprisonment. Twelve Islamic states in northern Nigeria—including Bauchi— have introduced Sharia law that has sentenced several gays to death. However, the death sentences have reportedly never been enforced and the sentences were commuted.
The extreme anti-gay law bans same-sex relationships, sexual relations between persons of the same sex and membership in pro-gay organizations. The legislation also bans same sex couples from living together, bans pro-LGBT websites or groups and prosecute their friends or human rights activists. The new law is expected to be extremely "popular" and should help President Jonathan's 2015 re-election campaign, adds The Guardian.
Previous versions of the bill banned gays from meeting, living together, reading LGBT websites or even going out to dinner. The comprehensive anti-gay legislation was passed unanimously by Nigeria's House of Representatives in late May 2013. It later passed the Senate.
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. South Africa is the only African nation that mandates equal marriage.
Some Background ...
NIGERIA: Violent Mobs Attack Suspected Gay Men
Dozens Arrested After Anti-Gay Law in Nigeria
Nigerian President Signs Anti-Gay Law
NIGERIA: Katsina Approves Anti-Gay Legislation
NIGERIA: REPORT: Police Arrest "Gay Pastor"
NIGERIA: 3 Gay Men Stripped, Beaten by Mob
NIGERIA: Criticism After Actor Sentenced
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