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4 men convicted of gay sex in Nigeria are whipped

LAGOS, Nigeria — Four young men were convicted of gay sex and whipped publicly as punishment Thursday in an Islamic court in northern Nigeria, a human rights activist said.

The 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.

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The men could face further violence in prison if human rights organizations do not come up with an additional fine of $120 each meted out Thursday by a judge in Bauchi city, according to Dorothy Aken’Ova, convenor of the Coalition for the Defense of Sexual Rights Network. The four were sentenced to 15 strokes plus a year’s imprisonment if they cannot pay their fines.

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.

She said they had to lie on the floor of the court to be whipped on their backsides.

The men’s families, mainly subsistence farmers in rural areas where everyone knows everyone else, refused an offer of legal representation because they preferred to negotiate with the judge and get the case behind them, said Aken’Ova.

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