The first of 10 Nigerian men being tried for homosexuality in Nigeria’s conservative Bauchi province got off with 20 lashes, The New York Times reports, escaping the penalty of death by stoning that is mandated by law. Nine others remain in prison. The men had to be removed from a courtroom in January when an angry mob outside began throwing stones through the windows and threatened to kill the accused if they were released.
Conditions for gay people are especially bad in Nigeria’s Muslim northern states, where sharia law is in force. Persecution of gay people has been especially bad since President Goodluck Jonathan signed a bill banning gay marriages and shutting down gay bars and clubs.
Officials in Bauchi say they want to root out and “sanitize” gay people from the population. “It is detestable,” one sharia commission official told The New York Times. “This thing is an abomination. They don’t do it in the open. You get one or two, you see how they speak, you see how they dress, then you might have reasonable grounds to suspect. We get information from sources interested in seeing the society cleansed.”