LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) - Local and international groups fighting AIDS
warned on Tuesday that a new Nigerian law criminalizing same-sex
marriage and gay organizations will jeopardize the fight against the
Human rights activists reported that dozens of gay
men were being arrested in northern Nigeria in an apparent response to
the law. The United States, Britain and Canada condemned the law, with
Secretary of State John Kerry saying Monday that it "dangerously
restricts freedom" of expression and association of all Nigerians.
Goodluck Jonathan's spokesman confirmed Monday that he had signed the
Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act on Jan. 7, providing penalties of up
to 14 years in jail for a gay marriage and up to 10 years' imprisonment
for membership or encouragement of gay club, societies and
The U.N. 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."
The law also criminalizes people and
groups who support "the registration, operation and sustenance of gay
clubs, societies and organizations, processions or meetings in Nigeria."
Those convicted could be jailed for 10 years.
UNAIDS said the law could harm Jonathan's own presidential initiative to fight AIDS, started a year ago.
said Nigeria has the second largest HIV epidemic globally with an
estimated 3.4 million people living with HIV. The disease affects many
more gay men than heterosexuals, with 2010 statistics estimating
national HIV prevalence at 4% compared to 17% among gay men, according
Activist Dorothy Aken'Ova said the new legislation,
already dubbed the "Jail the Gays" law, will endanger and even
criminalize programs fighting HIV-AIDS in the gay community. Aken'Ova is
executive director of Nigeria's International Center for Reproductive
Health and Sexual Rights based in Minna, Niger state.
it was the passed, the law was being used to persecute gays, she said.
In Bauchi state, she said police entrapped four gay men and tortured
them into naming others. She said the police have drawn up a list of 168
wanted gay men, of whom 38 have been arrested recently.
Nigeria's president, has not publicly expressed his views on
homosexuality. But his spokesman, Reuben Abati, told The Associated
Press on Monday night, "This is a law that is in line with the people's
cultural and religious inclination. So it is a law that is a reflection
of the beliefs and orientation of Nigerian people. ... Nigerians are
pleased with it."