By Becky Bratu, Staff Writer, NBC News
January 14, 2014, 3:55 pm nbcnews.com
Nigerian police targeted a group of gay men and tortured them into naming dozens of others, human rights activists said Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.
The men now face up to 10 years in jail for belonging to a gay organization under a new bill that criminalizes same-sex relationships.
The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act was signed into law Monday by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, defying international pressure to respect gay and lesbian rights.
The bill, which bans gay marriage, same-sex “amorous relationships” and membership in gay rights groups, was passed by the national assembly last May, but Jonathan had delayed signing it into law.
Chairman Mustapha Baba Ilela of Bauchi state Shariah Commission, which oversees regulation of Islamic law, told the AP that 11 gay men have been arrested in the past two weeks, but denied torture or intimidation was used.
An AIDS counselor who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear he would be arrested, told the AP he helped get bail for some 38 men arrested since Christmas.
Activists worry that the new law will endanger programs fighting HIV-AIDS in the gay community.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.