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Nigerian Asylum Seeker Has Two Weeks To Prove She's A Lesbian Or Face Death: VIDEO

Apate_aderonke

Aderonke Apata (pictured above at right with her current fiancée) fled Nigeria 10 years ago when her family and girlfriend were murdered. Apata was sentenced to death for being gay. In fact, she has scars upon her head and back from where she’s been beaten and stabbed by boys in her community disgusted at her being a lesbian.

After having her pleas for asylum rejected twice by the United Kingdom, she now has just two weeks to convince the UK Home Office that she will be killed if sent back to Nigeria. In part, she has to prove that she’s actually a lesbian by enduring extensive, intrusive interviews about her sexual behavior (we’re talking questions about penetration, positions and what she does and does not enjoy in bed).

Apata says that some asylum seekers even go to the degrading extent of recording themselves having sex just to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are in fact gay.

On March 28th of this year, Home Secretary Teresa May announced that the UK asylum system will be reviewed and reformed so that questions focus on sexual orientation rather than behavior. But while that reform may help people in the future, there’s a petition asking the UK Home Office to grant her asylum now.

Watch the video AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Nigerian Asylum Seeker Has Two Weeks To Prove She's A Lesbian Or Face Death: VIDEO" »


Jailed Suspected Gay Nigerian Men Released On Bail

The seven suspected gay men were imprisoned in January during the initial wave of arrests under Nigeria's vicious anti-gay law. An angry mob had called for the men's speedy convictions soon after they were detained. 

AFP reports:

A clerk at the upper sharia court in the Unguwar Jaki district of Bauchi, which is hearing one of the cases, confirmed the release of three of the men.

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"The court granted bail to the three remaining suspects at the last trial session on 11 March, pending the determination of their cases," said Abdul Mohammed.

"The judge's decision to grant them bail was borne out of the fact that none of the accused was caught in the act, which is an indispensable condition to warrant the death sentence. That means they would not get the death penalty at the end."

The other four men are on trial at Tudun Alkali upper sharia court, also in Bauchi.

The men's cases have been heard in secret after an angry mob pelted the defendants with stones after a hearing on 23 January, demanding their immediate execution.

Police had to break up the riot with teargas.

"Since the mob action on 23 January, the sodomy trials have been going on in secret in another location and the trial dates are never made public," said Mohammed.

Sharia law provides for death by stoning for sodomy once it is established by four witnesses to the act or voluntary confession.

Earlier this month, four other suspected gay men were given 15 lashes with a horse whip in public.

What's it like to be gay in Nigeria? Watch a BBC news segment which attempts to answer that question, AFTER THE JUMP.

Continue reading "Jailed Suspected Gay Nigerian Men Released On Bail" »


Cutting Foreign Aid Won't Defeat Anti-Gay Laws in Africa and Latin America

BY ARI SHAW AND MAURICIO ALBARRACÍN / GlobalPost

Commentary: Human rights courts and commissions are the best tools to diminish violence and strengthen LGBT rights.

MuseveniBOGOTA — Will cuts to foreign aid as a response to anti-gay laws help the plight of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Africa? The conventional wisdom seems to say “yes.”

Recent legislation in Uganda, which imposes a life sentence for “aggravated homosexuality” and criminalizes any promotion of homosexuality, has been rightly condemned as a violation of the fundamental equality and dignity of LGBT people.

In response, a number of Western countries, including Norway, Denmark and Sweden, have withdrawn foreign assistance, and the World Bank froze a $90 million loan to Uganda.

These actions, while understandable, are misguided.

Condemnation by foreign governments, including the United States, is an important symbolic measure and can help delegitimize anti-gay laws. Yet cuts in foreign assistance can have the unintended effect of emboldening homophobic rhetoric that links aid and LGBT rights to neocolonial intervention.

This would further endanger the lives of LGBT citizens in these countries.

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act has received broad support among Ugandans. Its author has said that any costs in foreign aid are “worth it.”
 
RedpepperMeanwhile, activists report an increase in arrests and harassment of LGBT people, and a similar bill in Nigeria has led to a rash of mob violence against gays and lesbians.

Foreign governments and international donors seeking to help should, instead, increase financial and technical support for African LGBT rights organizations and human rights institutions.

LGBT activists in many African states face highly restrictive and dangerous conditions that limit their ability advocate for reforms. In many cases, these laws not only discriminate against LGBT individuals but also criminalize or severely restrict public dissent and association around LGBT issues.

The burgeoning African system of human rights courts and commissions should be strengthened to provide an important and necessary tool for enhancing LGBT rights and activism in the region.

The experience of LGBT rights activism in another developing region — Latin America — offers insight into the roles regional human rights bodies can play.

In the past several years, advances in gay rights in Latin America have outpaced those in the United States and some European nations. Argentina and Uruguay, for instance, have full marriage equality, while Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia offer some form of legal protection for same-sex couples and families.

Violence and inequality persist, but in many national debates around LGBT rights, the Inter-American human rights system has been an important resource for gay rights activists.

IachrIndividuals and nongovernmental organizations can appeal directly to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which investigates and offers recommendations to remedy cases of human rights abuse.

Consequently, the quasi-judicial commission has been an active forum for documenting and publicizing human rights abuses.

In the past five years, the commission has held 17 public hearings related to gay rights, same-sex unions, and homophobic violence in the Americas.

Since February 2012, it has issued 31 news releases drawing national and international media attention to the plight of LGBT communities in member countries and across the region.

The commission has also visited countries to highlight the negative conditions for LGBT people there. And, as of February 1, the commission has a permanent office with a mandate to monitor human rights abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights only hears cases referred by the commission or from petitions by national governments, but its rulings are legally binding.

Most notably, in a 2012 case against Chile, the court ruled that sexual orientation and gender identity are protected categories under the American Convention on Human Rights. As a result, no domestic laws may be promulgated that restrict individual rights on these grounds.

The ruling has not only shaped the ongoing debate in Chile around marriage equality and same-sex families, but has also set binding precedent for national judges in member states facing same-sex marriage litigation.

The African regional human rights system might play a similar role in augmenting the work of LBGT rights activists in the region. Following the lead of its Inter-American organization, the African Commission could take a more active role as a public forum to highlight violence against LGBT people and publicly shame governments that fail to protect them.

Moreover, the commission could coordinate more closely with the tapestry of sub-regional African courts, such as the East African Court of Justice, that are increasingly asserting their jurisdiction to hear cases involving human rights violations.

To be sure, regional human rights systems are no panacea for ending human rights abuses against LGBT people. The process can be frustratingly slow, often taking years to reach a ruling.

These institutions lack strong enforcement powers, and some leaders openly defy their judgments. The African system in particular has faced charges of inefficiency, while the nascent African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights has struggled to become fully operational.

Regional human rights institutions can provide crucial publicity, legitimacy and legal precedent for LGBT rights activists in the face of stifling national laws.

A strengthened African regional human rights system can bypass critiques of foreign intervention and create external pressure on national governments that bolsters the work of local activists. The best lesson from LGBT activism in the Inter-American system is that the amplified voices of citizens are often the most persuasive.

Ari Shaw is currently a Fulbright Scholar in Colombia researching the impact of international law on LGBT activism. Mauricio Albarracín is a lawyer with Colombia Diversa, a national LGBT rights organization based in Bogotá.


Four Men Accused of Being Gay Whipped in Nigerian Court

A picture taken on January 22, 2014 shows two suspected homosexuals in green prison uniforms (L) sitting before Judge El-Yakubu Aliyu during court proceedings at Unguwar Jaki Upper Sharia Court in the northern Nigerian city of Bauchi.

Four men accused of being gay have been publicly whipped in a Nigerian court in the northern state of Bauchi, the AP reports:

BauchiThe 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 Thursday by a judge in Bauchi city, Dorothy Aken'Ova, convenor of the Coalition for the Defense of Sexual Rights Network, told The Associated Press. The four were sentenced to 15 strokes plus a year's imprisonment if they cannot pay the fine.

Aken'Ova said the men, aged between 20 and 22, should not have been convicted because their confessions were forced by law agents who beat them.

The men's families, embarrassed by the men, refused the offer of a lawyer in order to get the case over with, according to the AP:

On Thursday, the judge said he was lenient because the men had promised that the homosexual acts occurred in the past and that they had since changed their ways, according to Aken'Ova.


Harlem Pastor: Obama Behind Plot to Unleash Gay 'Homo' Demons on Black Men — VIDEO

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James David Manning, birther and chief pastor at the ATLAH World Missionary Church on 123rd Street in New York City's Harlem neighborhood, has unveiled his latest campaign (you may remember another one back in 2010) against gays by making a bizarre claim in a YouTube video and on the marquee of the sign outside his church.

ManningAccording to Manning, President Obama has unleashed gay demons upon the black male community "hoping to influence as many black males to subscribe to ideals of 'homosexual perverted LGBT' as possible." This has led to the outing of Jason Collins and Michael Sam which in turn is "encouraging more black men to come out of the closet."

The newly out black gay men "are being scooped up by white homos" according to Manning, leaving black women with less of a choice of a man to come and be her husband and father her children.

Manning also offers his praise for the presidents of Uganda and Nigeria, as well as The Gambian. You may recall that Gambian President Yahya Jammeh recently said that gays are 'vermin' and should be exterminated like malaria-laden mosquitos.

Watch Manning's video, AFTER THE JUMP...

The NY Daily News reports:

Carmen Neely, president of Harlem PRIDE, a support group for members of the lesbian and gay communities of Upper Manhattan, called the sign “shameful” and “foolish.”

“This demonization is such a stark contrast from the positive progress that has been made between black churches and their same-gender loving congregants,” said Neely.

Continue reading "Harlem Pastor: Obama Behind Plot to Unleash Gay 'Homo' Demons on Black Men — VIDEO" »


David Mixner: Reflections From An Intensive Care Unit

BY DAVID MIXNER

ICUAs many of you know, recently I went through another tough patch with my health. For near a dozen days I was in an Intensive Care Unit in New York City in critical condition. This latest was a rough one and the most challenging emotionally, spiritually and physically of my life. The pain was extraordinary, the odds were uphill and my body and soul were just plain tired.

One night in the darkness of the unit, I looked through dozens of tubes and lights next to my bed into the snowy sky over the East River. Ironically the silhouetted tubes seem like tree branches and the lights like stars as the beauty of the snow laid beyond them. Without any dramatic Bette Davis moment, a strange peace had overcome the pain and I reflected on the choice of fighting to live — or perhaps it was time to let go and begin another remarkable adventure.

After all, I have given 54 years of my exciting life to serving others and working for justice, freedom and equality. One of my heroes is the martyred liberationist theologist Archbishop Oscar Romero. That night in intensive care a favorite quote from the Archbishop came to mind:

"Beautiful is the moment in which we understand that we are no more than an instrument of God; we live only as long as God wants us to live; we can only do as much as God makes us able to do; we are only as intelligent as God would have us be.”

Years ago I had learned that each and everyone of us is dispensable, that history will record little of our journey and that thankfully there are thousands behind us equally equipped to lift the banner of freedom and justice. For me, the concept of moving on is not one of sadness or unfinished work but just part of the process of completing this part of the journey.

That night in ICU, as the clanging of bells and whistles demanded the attention of a nurse to replace one of the dozens of bags hanging next to my bed, I knew that the choice was mine. I could move on and embark on a totally new adventure or choose to continue to fight here. Not because I was desperately needed but because just maybe a decision to live to fight for freedom might, just might, inspire a couple more young people in these urgent times to join this epic struggle for freedom and justice.

As is usually the case, the next day provided my answer.

Each morning my friend Gary Belis brought in a ton of newspapers to keep me informed. Being impacted heavily by the enormous number of medications, Gary would thoughtfully find the most important stories and made sure they were read to me or highlighted so I wouldn't miss them.

That morning the papers were full of people embracing God to hide their hate including President Putin in Russia, President Goodluck Jonathan in Nigeria, and Governor Brownback in Kansas. LGBT citizens were being dragged out of their homes in Nigeria, fleeing the coming oppression in Uganda and being rounded up in Russia. Even the brutal Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych found time to condemn homosexuality as he killed his own people.

Gary had made sure I saw the new tactic by the authoritarian right in America to allow anyone to discriminate against LGBT Americans simply by proclaiming it was their religious belief and God's will. The proposed (and eventual passage of) legislation in Arizona quickly reminded me of the segregation of my childhood. Our churches would hold our picnics at 'private lakes' which charged 25 cents so that they could keep out the blacks who used the State Park just down the road.

After all, it was God's will not to mix the races and shouldn't white Americans have the freedom to hate, discriminate and separate because of their personal religious beliefs?

Let's be honest. Arizona's law is not about religious freedom either. It is simply a new tactic so those who hate LGBT Americans can continue to wear white sheets and hide behind a deity to practice that hate.

20140222_134027Later in the day, I was visited by Father Michael who listened carefully as I asked if it was time to 'let go'. That brilliant conversation and a later one with my sister, Patsy, provided the answer to my pressing question.

I wanted to fight to live.

Why?

Every tyrant, every person filled with hate, every oppressor of LGBT citizens and every person who would make God a person of hate must know that each and every one of us who care about our freedom will fight to literally our dying breath to defeat them. No matter where they are located, how much power they have and what brutality they used against us, they can not defeat us simply because our determination to breath the air of freedom will bring us victory.

If I seriously believed that, then I have to live it.

The choice was clear and I have to continue with the battle until I can't lift my head any longer. Not because I am special or indispensable but because I am one of you and each and everyone one of us is needed. By continuing to embrace life, I am one more voice that refuses to be silenced until our children can live in total freedom.

After all Archbishop Romero believed that sin was simply to do nothing in the face injustice, war and poverty. My 'fellow travelers' in life always have been those who believe the Archbishop's words:

Peace is not the product of terror or fear.
Peace is not the silence of cemeteries.
Peace is not the silent result of violent repression.
Peace is the generous,
tranquil contribution of all
to the good of all.
Peace is dynamism.
Peace is generosity.
It is right and it is duty.

That day I made my decision to fight on no matter how hard the obstacles, or what was required of me.

What about you? What is your decision?


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