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Whippings held in Nigeria

Four young men were convicted of gay sex and whipped publicly as punishment March 6 in an Islamic court in Northern Nigeria, a human-rights activist said.

The four were among dozens caught in a wave of arrests after Nigeria strengthened its criminal penalties for homosexuality with the new Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act in January.

The men could face further violence in prison if human-rights organizations do not come up with an additional fine of 20,000 naira ($120) each meted out March 6 by a judge in Bauchi city, said Dorothy Aken’Ova, convener of the Coalition for the Defense of Sexual Rights Network. The men were sentenced to 15 strokes plus a year’s imprisonment if they cannot pay the fine.

Aken’Ova said the men, ages 20-22, should not have been convicted because their confessions were forced by law agents who beat them.

She said they had to prostrate themselves on the floor of the court to be whipped on their backsides.

The men’s families, mainly subsistence farmers in rural areas where everyone knows everyone else, refused an offer of legal representation because they preferred to negotiate with the judge and get the case behind them, said Aken’Ova. She said the families were embarrassed by the stigma attached to homosexuality, which many highly religious Nigerians consider an evil imported from the West.

The hearings in Bauchi city, capital of the state of the same name, had been delayed from January, when a crowd tried to stone the accused men outside the court and demanded the judge pass the death sentence. Security officials had to fire into the air to save the men and disperse the crowd.

Under Shariah law in some North Nigerian states, homosexuals can be sentenced to death by stoning or lethal injection, though that sentence has never been enforced.

On March 6, the judge said he was lenient because the men had promised that the homosexual acts that occurred in the past and that they had since changed their ways, according to Aken’Ova. Swedish supporter stabbed

A Swedish anti-homophobia campaigner is said to be in critical condition following a stabbing during an assault by right-wing activists March 8.

Showan Shattak, a supporter of Swedish football club Malmö FF, founded “Football fans against homophobia” in Sweden, and reports suggest that he was attacked by “Nazis” in Malmö and left in critical condition.

Following the attack, Ultras Malmö, supporter network for the Malmö FF, released a statement condemning the assault.

It said: “All of our thoughts and all our love today goes out to our friend Showan who last night was stabbed and beaten by Nazis. Showan is currently under sedation in [the] hospital. Showan is one of Malmö’s most active figures and has strongly contributed to building up the culture today in the MFF. Our stand is a place of communion and where everybody with a sky-blue heart is welcome. We will never accept racism and Nazism in our stands or in our city. We invite everyone to give their thoughts to Showan and his family. All love to you Showan. Fight!”

— compiled by Larry Nichols

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