Man flogged 14 times in one day as ‘conversion therapy’ for being gay in Nigeria

Kenyan gay and lesbian organisations demonstrate outside the Nigerian High Commission in Nairobi, one holding a yellow sign that reads: 'Nigeria: LGBTI, We are together'

A Nigerian man has revealed the shocking ordeal he went through, being flogged 14 times in one day, for being gay in Nigeria.

In 2014, former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan signed into law the “same-sex marriage prohibition act (SSMPA)” which ruled that being in a same-sex couple in any form, including marriage, civil unions and even relationships, would mean a 14-year prison sentence.

It also makes a person who “registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisation, or directly or indirectly make public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria” liable for 10 years in prison.

In an interview with the BBC the man, who asked to remain anonymous for his safety, said: “Everybody sees me as an abomination, I shouldn’t be something that should exist.

“I grew up in a Christian family, a very religious family that believes same-sex relationships to be demonic.”

He said that when he came out to his sister she reacted badly, and a few days later when she asked to meet with him she brought along a “prophet” who forced him into so-called conversion therapy.

The man continued: “He would come in at intervals to do some ‘spiritual exercises’, as he said, which included stripping me naked and flogging me and all that.

“The first day he continued, he did it about seven times. Coming at different intervals for seven times. He did the same thing the second day, it became 14 times.

“Then on the third day, out of exhaustion and the pains I was going through, I passed out.”

The BBC also interviewed a woman who went into conversion therapy voluntarily, having been taught that her attraction to the same sex was wrong.

She said: “I raised my legs and then they poured oil into my vagina. I don’t know the contents of what was in the oil because it was kind of peppery, but it made me quite uncomfortable.

“For me it was intrusive because what has my vagina got to do with deliverance?

“But at the time I didn’t really know much so for me, I was ready to just do anything to take the whole feeling of same-sex attraction, I was ready to just do anything to make it go away.”

Xeenarh Mohammed of The Initiative for Equal Rights in Nigeria said that the SSMPA has made it easier for police to target anyone they perceive to be gay.

She said: “Young people, especially young men, have been affected specifically by the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act because the police have used it as a cover to basically target people that they find to not conform to masculinities in the way that they imagine… they detain people like that and extort them for money.”

Last month, 47 men pleaded guilty on the same day after they were hauled into court on charges of displaying same-sex affection in public.

The men said they were attending a birthday party at a hotel, but police insisted they were being “initiated” into a gay club.