Nigerian police accused of using entrapment and torture to identify and arrest gay men

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Police in Nigeria have been accused of using torture and entrapment to compile and add to lists of men assumed to be gay, leading to arrests.

The internationally condemned law, now nicknamed the “Jail the Gays” law, was signed by President Jonathan some time earlier this month, but announcement of his approval only emerged on Monday.

Activists in northern Nigeria said that dozens of gay men had already been arrested, but that such persecution would only increase since the law has been given approval by President Goodluck Jonathan.

The latest development is the accusation that police have used entrapment and torture in order to lengthen their list of suspects.

The executive director of the International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights Dorothy Aken’Ova, said on Tuesday that the new law would endanger lives, and that it would even criminalise programs fighting HIV and AIDS.

Ms Aken’Ova said that police in the northern province of Bauchi had entrapped four gay men, and had tortured them until they named others.

She said the police had compiled a list of 168 men assumed to be gay, out of which 38 had already been arrested.

“This started before the law was signed, but now there is going to be even more of these indiscriminate arrests,” she went on.

Under the terms of the new law, anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage or civil union may be jailed for up to 14 years, and all such unions entered into abroad are made “void”.

It also bans people who register, operate or participate in gay clubs, societies or organisations, or who publicly show that they are in a same-sex relationship will be punishable with up to ten years in prison.

“Only a marriage contract between a man and a woman shall be recognised as valid in Nigeria,” the law states.

US Secretary of State John Kerry issued a strong statement condemning Nigeria’s actions.

The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office also criticised Nigeria on Tuesday, saying “the Nigerian Government is aware of our concerns”. 

The United Nations human rights chief Niva Pillay became the latest  to give her reaction to Nigeria’s anti-gay law by describing it as unprecedented for its multiple violations of basic freedoms.