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Gay Men Arrested Under Nigeria's New Anti-Gay Law

9009_president_goodluck_jonathan-001There are reports that gay men in the north of Nigeria are being arrested following President Goodluck Jonathan passing strict news laws against homosexuality.

ABC News in the USA has reported that human rights activists in the country are reporting dozens of arrests.

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On Monday President Jonathan (pictured) signed a law making it illegal for gay people to marry, show affection or form associations or groups.

Humanitarian organisations have also raised concern that the law prevents anyone from providing services to people who are determined to be homosexual.

The same sex marriage act was adopted by the Nigerian senate in 2011 and was supported by the nation’s lower house of parliament last May. It suddenly became a law when the President signed it on Monday.

The new law threatens long prison terms for the country’s LGBT population.

Under the new law any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria will face a term of 14 years in prison.

International criticism of the new law has been swift with concern being raised by the United Kingdon, the USA and the United Nations.

The United Nations agency to fight AIDS and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria expressed “deep concern that access to HIV services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people will be severely affected by a new law in Nigeria — further criminalizing LGBT people, organizations and activities, as well as people who support them.”

Speaking to the BBC the head of the Kaleidoscope International Diversity Trust,  Bisi Alimi said the move would have a detrimental effect on tackling the HIV crisis in the country.

“You’re not allowed to provide services to anyone who is perceived to be homosexual,” said Mr Alimi, “When you say that services will not be provided, what you’re saying is that HIV services that are catering for men who have sex with men will have to stop.”

Nigeria has the second largest HIV epidemic in the world. An estimated 3.4 million people are living with HIV according to the united Nations. The disease is more prevelent in the gay population, statistics released in 2010 estimated national HIV prevalence at 4 percent compared to 17 percent among gay men.

US Secretary of State, John Kerry criticised the move saying it dangerously restricted “freedom of assembly, association and expression for all Nigerians.” Mr Kerry also highlighted the law was inconsistent with Nigeria’s international legal obligations and undermined the nations constitution and commitment to human rights protections.

Condemnation of the law has also come from the British government who said, “The UK opposes any form of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.” While the UK has threatened to cut aid to African countries who bring in anti-gay laws the former coloniser has little pull in the oil rich nation.

 

 

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