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Members Of Congress Protest Nigeria Gay Death Sent


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Members Of Congress Protest Nigeria Gay Death Sentences

by Paul Johnson 365Gay.com Washington Bureau Chief

Posted: August 1, 2005 5:00 pm ET

(Washington) Twenty-two Democratic members of Congress have protested death sentences handed out to men convicted of "sodomy" in Nigeria.

At least three men have been sentenced over the past month to death by stoning in Nigeria which also follows Sharia law in several provinces. (story)

The letter to Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo focused on one of the sentences, that of a 50-year-old man accused of having sex with another man, arrested and brought before a Sharia or Islamic court.

After being acquitted of the charge for lack of evidence, the man admitted to the judge, when asked, that he had had sex in the past with men. On that basis, he was convicted and is now on death row awaiting execution by stoning. (story)

As reported by 365Gay.com on July 10, the case came to the attention of the United Nations by accident.

Philip Alston, the United Nations special rapporteur on arbitrary executions happened to be making a tour of Nigerian prisons when he came across the man.

The letter was organized by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), the senior Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee; and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), the senior Democratic woman on the House Committee on International Relations and the Whip of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Rep.Tom Lantos (D-CA), the senior Democrat on the House Committee on International Relations; and Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), the senior Democrat on the International Relations Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations, were among the members signing the letter.

"We strongly urge you to intervene in this case to assure that this man's legal and human rights are respected and defended," the letter states. "We share the view of the special rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights who recently ended a visit to Nigeria with a call for the death penalty to be dropped in cases of homosexuality and for "immediate measures to review the entire proceedings" of this man's case in particular. "

The letter goes on to note: "We have been very supportive of your efforts to transform Nigeria from military to civilian rule, and we applaud in particular the role your country is playing to help foster stability in West Africa. We also continue to be supportive of U.S. aid to Nigeria, but we must tell you that Americans are also entitled to expect that countries that benefit from our humanitarian and economic assistance will not tolerate practices that are so clearly in violation of basic human rights."

The State Department's 2004 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices describes Nigeria's human rights record as "poor," and claims that the Government "continued to commit serious abuses." It also describes Nigeria's judicial system as often "incapable of providing criminal suspects with fair trials."

In July two teens were executed in Iran under Sharia law, reportedly because they were gay. (story) Supporters of the government say the pair had threatened and abused a 13 year old but rights groups dispute the allegation.

In March a gay couple was beheaded in a public execution in Saudi Arabia. (story) The pair had been convicted of killing a blackmailer who had threatened to expose them to authorities. Hundreds of other gays have been rounded up by Saudi authorities in recent months. (story)

©365Gay.com 2005


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