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Dozens arrested for being gay in north Nigeria

  • Olumide Makanjuola, an executive director of the Initiative For Equality, speaks to Associated Press during an interview in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014.  Police, working off a list of 168 suspects purportedly obtained through torture, are arresting dozens of gay men in Nigeria's northern Bauchi state, human rights activists said Tuesday. A new law in Nigeria, dubbed the "Jail the Gays" bill, is encouraging the persecution of gays and will endanger programs fighting HIV-AIDS in the gay community, said Dorothy Aken'Ova, executive director of Nigeria's International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights. On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan's office confirmed that the Nigerian leader signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that criminalizes gay marriage, gay organizations and anyone working with or promoting them. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

    Olumide Makanjuola, an executive director of the Initiative For Equality, speaks to Associated Press during an interview in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. Police, working off a list of 168 suspects purportedly obtained through torture, are arresting dozens of gay men in Nigeria's northern Bauchi state, human rights activists said Tuesday. A new law in Nigeria, dubbed the "Jail the Gays" bill, is encouraging the persecution of gays and will endanger programs fighting HIV-AIDS in the gay community, said Dorothy Aken'Ova, executive director of Nigeria's International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights. On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan's office confirmed that the Nigerian leader signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that criminalizes gay marriage, gay organizations and anyone working with or promoting them. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

  • In this photo taken with a mobile phone, people runs as smokes billows through the sky after a car bomb explosion at a military post in  Maiduguri, Nigeria, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. A vehicle exploded at a military post in a commercial area in a northeastern Nigerian city on Tuesday, killing at least 17 people and causing pandemonium with blood-spattered bystanders running away and vehicles colliding as drivers rushed to flee.. (AP Photo/Abdulkareem Haruna)

    In this photo taken with a mobile phone, people runs as smokes billows through the sky after a car bomb explosion at a military post in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. A vehicle exploded at a military post in a commercial area in a northeastern Nigerian city on Tuesday, killing at least 17 people and causing pandemonium with blood-spattered bystanders running away and vehicles colliding as drivers rushed to flee.. (AP Photo/Abdulkareem Haruna)

  • FILE - In this Feb. 27, 2012 file photo, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, visits Koluama 2 village, in Nigeria. Local and international groups fighting AIDS warned on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, that a new Nigerian law criminalizing same-sex marriage and gay organizations will jeopardize the fight against the deadly disease. President Jonathan's spokesman confirmed Monday that he had signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act on Jan. 7, 2014, providing penalties of up to 14 years in jail for a gay marriage and up to 10 years' imprisonment for membership or encouragement of gay club, societies and organizations.(AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)

    FILE - In this Feb. 27, 2012 file photo, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, visits Koluama 2 village, in Nigeria. Local and international groups fighting AIDS warned on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, that a new Nigerian law criminalizing same-sex marriage and gay organizations will jeopardize the fight against the deadly disease. President Jonathan's spokesman confirmed Monday that he had signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act on Jan. 7, 2014, providing penalties of up to 14 years in jail for a gay marriage and up to 10 years' imprisonment for membership or encouragement of gay club, societies and organizations.(AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2011 file photo, Rashidi Williams, a gay man, rides in a car in Lagos, Nigeria. Local and international groups fighting AIDS warned on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, that a new Nigerian law criminalizing same-sex marriage and gay organizations will jeopardize the fight against the deadly disease. Human rights activists reported that dozens of gay men were being arrested in northern Nigeria in an apparent response to the law. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)

    FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2011 file photo, Rashidi Williams, a gay man, rides in a car in Lagos, Nigeria. Local and international groups fighting AIDS warned on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, that a new Nigerian law criminalizing same-sex marriage and gay organizations will jeopardize the fight against the deadly disease. Human rights activists reported that dozens of gay men were being arrested in northern Nigeria in an apparent response to the law. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)

  • FILE - In this, Friday, Dec. 2, 2011 photo, Abosede Oladayo, 36, an AIDS activist living with HIV, speaks during an event to mark World Aids Day at the U.S Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria. Local and international groups fighting AIDS warned on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, that a new Nigerian law criminalizing same-sex marriage and gay organizations will jeopardize the fight against the deadly disease. The United States, Britain and Canada condemned the law, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying Monday that it 'dangerously restricts freedom' of expression and association of all Nigerians.(AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)

    FILE - In this, Friday, Dec. 2, 2011 photo, Abosede Oladayo, 36, an AIDS activist living with HIV, speaks during an event to mark World Aids Day at the U.S Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria. Local and international groups fighting AIDS warned on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, that a new Nigerian law criminalizing same-sex marriage and gay organizations will jeopardize the fight against the deadly disease. The United States, Britain and Canada condemned the law, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying Monday that it 'dangerously restricts freedom' of expression and association of all Nigerians.(AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)

  • FILE - In this, Friday, Dec. 2, 2011 photo, Abosede Oladayo, 36, an AIDS activist living with HIV, speaks during an event to mark World Aids Day at the U.S Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria. Local and international groups fighting AIDS warned on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, that a new Nigerian law criminalizing same-sex marriage and gay organizations will jeopardize the fight against the deadly disease. The United States, Britain and Canada condemned the law, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying Monday that it 'dangerously restricts freedom' of expression and association of all Nigerians.(AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)

    FILE - In this, Friday, Dec. 2, 2011 photo, Abosede Oladayo, 36, an AIDS activist living with HIV, speaks during an event to mark World Aids Day at the U.S Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria. Local and international groups fighting AIDS warned on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, that a new Nigerian law criminalizing same-sex marriage and gay organizations will jeopardize the fight against the deadly disease. The United States, Britain and Canada condemned the law, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying Monday that it 'dangerously restricts freedom' of expression and association of all Nigerians.(AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)

  • FILE - President Barack Obama meets with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in New York, in this Monday, Sept. 23, 2013 file photo.  The Associated Press on Monday Jan. 13 2014  obtained a copy of the previously unannounced Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act  that was signed by President  Jonathan and dated Jan. 7 that bans same-sex marriage and criminalizes homosexual associations, societies and meetings, with penalties of up to 14 years in jail. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday the United States was "deeply concerned" by a law that "dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association, and expression for all Nigerians." (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

    FILE - President Barack Obama meets with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in New York, in this Monday, Sept. 23, 2013 file photo. The Associated Press on Monday Jan. 13 2014 obtained a copy of the previously unannounced Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that was signed by President Jonathan and dated Jan. 7 that bans same-sex marriage and criminalizes homosexual associations, societies and meetings, with penalties of up to 14 years in jail. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday the United States was "deeply concerned" by a law that "dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association, and expression for all Nigerians." (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

  • Olumide Makanjuola, an executive director of the Initiative For Equality, speaks to Associated Press during an interview in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014.  Police, working off a list of 168 suspects purportedly obtained through torture, are arresting dozens of gay men in Nigeria's northern Bauchi state, human rights activists said Tuesday. A new law in Nigeria, dubbed the "Jail the Gays" bill, is encouraging the persecution of gays and will endanger programs fighting HIV-AIDS in the gay community, said Dorothy Aken'Ova, executive director of Nigeria's International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights. On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan's office confirmed that the Nigerian leader signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that criminalizes gay marriage, gay organizations and anyone working with or promoting them. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

    Olumide Makanjuola, an executive director of the Initiative For Equality, speaks to Associated Press during an interview in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. Police, working off a list of 168 suspects purportedly obtained through torture, are arresting dozens of gay men in Nigeria's northern Bauchi state, human rights activists said Tuesday. A new law in Nigeria, dubbed the "Jail the Gays" bill, is encouraging the persecution of gays and will endanger programs fighting HIV-AIDS in the gay community, said Dorothy Aken'Ova, executive director of Nigeria's International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights. On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan's office confirmed that the Nigerian leader signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that criminalizes gay marriage, gay organizations and anyone working with or promoting them. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

  • In this photo taken with a mobile phone, people runs as smokes billows through the sky after a car bomb explosion at a military post in  Maiduguri, Nigeria, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. A vehicle exploded at a military post in a commercial area in a northeastern Nigerian city on Tuesday, killing at least 17 people and causing pandemonium with blood-spattered bystanders running away and vehicles colliding as drivers rushed to flee. (AP Photo/Abdulkareem Haruna)

    In this photo taken with a mobile phone, people runs as smokes billows through the sky after a car bomb explosion at a military post in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. A vehicle exploded at a military post in a commercial area in a northeastern Nigerian city on Tuesday, killing at least 17 people and causing pandemonium with blood-spattered bystanders running away and vehicles colliding as drivers rushed to flee. (AP Photo/Abdulkareem Haruna)

  • Olumide Makanjuola, an executive director of the Initiative For Equality, speaks to Associated Press during an interview in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014.  Police, working off a list of 168 suspects purportedly obtained through torture, are arresting dozens of gay men in Nigeria's northern Bauchi state, human rights activists said Tuesday. A new law in Nigeria, dubbed the "Jail the Gays" bill, is encouraging the persecution of gays and will endanger programs fighting HIV-AIDS in the gay community, said Dorothy Aken'Ova, executive director of Nigeria's International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights. On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan's office confirmed that the Nigerian leader signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that criminalizes gay marriage, gay organizations and anyone working with or promoting them. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

    Olumide Makanjuola, an executive director of the Initiative For Equality, speaks to Associated Press during an interview in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. Police, working off a list of 168 suspects purportedly obtained through torture, are arresting dozens of gay men in Nigeria's northern Bauchi state, human rights activists said Tuesday. A new law in Nigeria, dubbed the "Jail the Gays" bill, is encouraging the persecution of gays and will endanger programs fighting HIV-AIDS in the gay community, said Dorothy Aken'Ova, executive director of Nigeria's International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights. On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan's office confirmed that the Nigerian leader signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that criminalizes gay marriage, gay organizations and anyone working with or promoting them. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

  • Olumide Makanjuola, an executive director of the Initiative For Equality, speaks to Associated Press during an interview in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014.  Police, working off a list of 168 suspects purportedly obtained through torture, are arresting dozens of gay men in Nigeria's northern Bauchi state, human rights activists said Tuesday. A new law in Nigeria, dubbed the "Jail the Gays" bill, is encouraging the persecution of gays and will endanger programs fighting HIV-AIDS in the gay community, said Dorothy Aken'Ova, executive director of Nigeria's International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights. On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan's office confirmed that the Nigerian leader signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that criminalizes gay marriage, gay organizations and anyone working with or promoting them. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

    Olumide Makanjuola, an executive director of the Initiative For Equality, speaks to Associated Press during an interview in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. Police, working off a list of 168 suspects purportedly obtained through torture, are arresting dozens of gay men in Nigeria's northern Bauchi state, human rights activists said Tuesday. A new law in Nigeria, dubbed the "Jail the Gays" bill, is encouraging the persecution of gays and will endanger programs fighting HIV-AIDS in the gay community, said Dorothy Aken'Ova, executive director of Nigeria's International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights. On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan's office confirmed that the Nigerian leader signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that criminalizes gay marriage, gay organizations and anyone working with or promoting them. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

  • A poster with two hands held together with inscription ''Maintain one sexual partner''  is seen in an office in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014.  Police, working off a list of 168 suspects purportedly obtained through torture, are arresting dozens of gay men in Nigeria's northern Bauchi state, human rights activists said Tuesday. A new law in Nigeria, dubbed the "Jail the Gays" bill, is encouraging the persecution of gays and will endanger programs fighting HIV-AIDS in the gay community, said Dorothy Aken'Ova, executive director of Nigeria's International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights. On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan's office confirmed that the Nigerian leader signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that criminalizes gay marriage, gay organizations and anyone working with or promoting them. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

    A poster with two hands held together with inscription ''Maintain one sexual partner'' is seen in an office in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. Police, working off a list of 168 suspects purportedly obtained through torture, are arresting dozens of gay men in Nigeria's northern Bauchi state, human rights activists said Tuesday. A new law in Nigeria, dubbed the "Jail the Gays" bill, is encouraging the persecution of gays and will endanger programs fighting HIV-AIDS in the gay community, said Dorothy Aken'Ova, executive director of Nigeria's International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights. On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan's office confirmed that the Nigerian leader signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that criminalizes gay marriage, gay organizations and anyone working with or promoting them. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

  • Olumide Makanjuola, an executive director of the Initiative For Equality, speaks to Associated Press during an interview in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014.  Police, working off a list of 168 suspects purportedly obtained through torture, are arresting dozens of gay men in Nigeria's northern Bauchi state, human rights activists said Tuesday. A new law in Nigeria, dubbed the "Jail the Gays" bill, is encouraging the persecution of gays and will endanger programs fighting HIV-AIDS in the gay community, said Dorothy Aken'Ova, executive director of Nigeria's International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights. On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan's office confirmed that the Nigerian leader signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that criminalizes gay marriage, gay organizations and anyone working with or promoting them. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
  • In this photo taken with a mobile phone, people runs as smokes billows through the sky after a car bomb explosion at a military post in  Maiduguri, Nigeria, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. A vehicle exploded at a military post in a commercial area in a northeastern Nigerian city on Tuesday, killing at least 17 people and causing pandemonium with blood-spattered bystanders running away and vehicles colliding as drivers rushed to flee.. (AP Photo/Abdulkareem Haruna)
  • FILE - In this Feb. 27, 2012 file photo, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, visits Koluama 2 village, in Nigeria. Local and international groups fighting AIDS warned on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, that a new Nigerian law criminalizing same-sex marriage and gay organizations will jeopardize the fight against the deadly disease. President Jonathan's spokesman confirmed Monday that he had signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act on Jan. 7, 2014, providing penalties of up to 14 years in jail for a gay marriage and up to 10 years' imprisonment for membership or encouragement of gay club, societies and organizations.(AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)
  • FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2011 file photo, Rashidi Williams, a gay man, rides in a car in Lagos, Nigeria. Local and international groups fighting AIDS warned on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, that a new Nigerian law criminalizing same-sex marriage and gay organizations will jeopardize the fight against the deadly disease. Human rights activists reported that dozens of gay men were being arrested in northern Nigeria in an apparent response to the law. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)
  • FILE - In this, Friday, Dec. 2, 2011 photo, Abosede Oladayo, 36, an AIDS activist living with HIV, speaks during an event to mark World Aids Day at the U.S Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria. Local and international groups fighting AIDS warned on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, that a new Nigerian law criminalizing same-sex marriage and gay organizations will jeopardize the fight against the deadly disease. The United States, Britain and Canada condemned the law, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying Monday that it 'dangerously restricts freedom' of expression and association of all Nigerians.(AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)
  • FILE - In this, Friday, Dec. 2, 2011 photo, Abosede Oladayo, 36, an AIDS activist living with HIV, speaks during an event to mark World Aids Day at the U.S Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria. Local and international groups fighting AIDS warned on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, that a new Nigerian law criminalizing same-sex marriage and gay organizations will jeopardize the fight against the deadly disease. The United States, Britain and Canada condemned the law, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying Monday that it 'dangerously restricts freedom' of expression and association of all Nigerians.(AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)
  • FILE - President Barack Obama meets with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in New York, in this Monday, Sept. 23, 2013 file photo.  The Associated Press on Monday Jan. 13 2014  obtained a copy of the previously unannounced Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act  that was signed by President  Jonathan and dated Jan. 7 that bans same-sex marriage and criminalizes homosexual associations, societies and meetings, with penalties of up to 14 years in jail. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday the United States was "deeply concerned" by a law that "dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association, and expression for all Nigerians." (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
  • Olumide Makanjuola, an executive director of the Initiative For Equality, speaks to Associated Press during an interview in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014.  Police, working off a list of 168 suspects purportedly obtained through torture, are arresting dozens of gay men in Nigeria's northern Bauchi state, human rights activists said Tuesday. A new law in Nigeria, dubbed the "Jail the Gays" bill, is encouraging the persecution of gays and will endanger programs fighting HIV-AIDS in the gay community, said Dorothy Aken'Ova, executive director of Nigeria's International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights. On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan's office confirmed that the Nigerian leader signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that criminalizes gay marriage, gay organizations and anyone working with or promoting them. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
  • In this photo taken with a mobile phone, people runs as smokes billows through the sky after a car bomb explosion at a military post in  Maiduguri, Nigeria, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. A vehicle exploded at a military post in a commercial area in a northeastern Nigerian city on Tuesday, killing at least 17 people and causing pandemonium with blood-spattered bystanders running away and vehicles colliding as drivers rushed to flee. (AP Photo/Abdulkareem Haruna)
  • Olumide Makanjuola, an executive director of the Initiative For Equality, speaks to Associated Press during an interview in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014.  Police, working off a list of 168 suspects purportedly obtained through torture, are arresting dozens of gay men in Nigeria's northern Bauchi state, human rights activists said Tuesday. A new law in Nigeria, dubbed the "Jail the Gays" bill, is encouraging the persecution of gays and will endanger programs fighting HIV-AIDS in the gay community, said Dorothy Aken'Ova, executive director of Nigeria's International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights. On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan's office confirmed that the Nigerian leader signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that criminalizes gay marriage, gay organizations and anyone working with or promoting them. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
  • Olumide Makanjuola, an executive director of the Initiative For Equality, speaks to Associated Press during an interview in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014.  Police, working off a list of 168 suspects purportedly obtained through torture, are arresting dozens of gay men in Nigeria's northern Bauchi state, human rights activists said Tuesday. A new law in Nigeria, dubbed the "Jail the Gays" bill, is encouraging the persecution of gays and will endanger programs fighting HIV-AIDS in the gay community, said Dorothy Aken'Ova, executive director of Nigeria's International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights. On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan's office confirmed that the Nigerian leader signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that criminalizes gay marriage, gay organizations and anyone working with or promoting them. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
  • A poster with two hands held together with inscription ''Maintain one sexual partner''  is seen in an office in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014.  Police, working off a list of 168 suspects purportedly obtained through torture, are arresting dozens of gay men in Nigeria's northern Bauchi state, human rights activists said Tuesday. A new law in Nigeria, dubbed the "Jail the Gays" bill, is encouraging the persecution of gays and will endanger programs fighting HIV-AIDS in the gay community, said Dorothy Aken'Ova, executive director of Nigeria's International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights. On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan's office confirmed that the Nigerian leader signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that criminalizes gay marriage, gay organizations and anyone working with or promoting them. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

First the police targeted the gay men, then tortured them into naming dozens of others who now are being hunted down, human rights activists said yesterday, warning that such persecution will rise under a new Nigerian law.

The men’s alleged crime? Belonging to a gay organization. The punishment? Up to 10 years in jail under the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which has elicited international condemnation for criminalizing gay marriage, gay organizations and anyone working with or promoting them.

There are varying accounts of how many arrests were made in Nigeria’s Bauchi state, and a local law enforcement official denied that anyone was tortured. Nevertheless, the aggressive police action shows that Africa’s most populous country is attempting to enforce anti-gay measures that are becoming increasingly common throughout the continent.

In this instance, authorities responded to an unfounded rumor that the United States had paid gay activists $20 million to promote same-sex marriage in this highly religious and conservative nation, according to an AIDS counselor, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear that he would be arrested.

An officer pretending to be a gay man then joined a group being counseled on AIDS, said Dorothy Aken’Ova, executive director of Nigeria’s International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights.

Aken’Ova said the police detained four gay men over the Christmas holidays and tortured them until they named others allegedly belonging to a gay organization. She gave no details of what she called torture, but the AIDS counselor said the four men were brutally beaten until they gave up names.

The police have now arrested 38 men and are looking for 168 others, said Aken’Ova, whose organization is helping provide legal services to the men. The AIDS counselor said he has helped secure bail for some of the 38 detainees. They both said dozens of homosexuals have fled Bauchi in recent days.

Chairman Mustapha Baba Ilela of Bauchi state Shariah Commission, which oversees regulation of Islamic law, said that 11 gay men have been arrested over the past two weeks. He said community members helped “fish out” the suspects and that “we are on the hunt for others.”

Bauchi state has both a Western-style penal code and Shariah, or Islamic law, which is implemented to different degrees in nine of Nigeria’s 36 states. About half of the country’s more than 175 million people are Muslims, the other half Christians.

Ilela said all 11 arrested – 10 Muslims and a non-Muslim – signed confessions that they belonged to a gay organization, but that some of them retracted the statements in court.

He denied any force was involved.

“They have never been tortured, they have never been beaten, they have never been intimidated,” he said.

Nigerian law enforcers are notorious for torturing suspects to extract confessions. They also are known for extorting money from victims to allow them to get out of jail cells.

Shawn Gaylord of Human Rights First, a Washington-based organization, said he was alarmed by the reports of torture and arrests.

“When discriminatory bills like this are passed, we are always concerned that they set the stage for violence and ill-treatment in society even when they are not enforced,” Gaylord said in a statement. “But the fact that this law is being enforced so quickly and forcefully demonstrates the full extent of Nigeria’s human rights crisis.”

Olumide Makanjuola said lawyers for his Initiative For Equality in Nigeria are backing lawsuits of several homosexuals arrested by the police without cause. He said the police regularly and illegally inspect the cell phones of gay suspects, then send text messages to lure others.

Then the men or women are told they will be charged and their sexual preferences exposed unless they pay bribes. “Some pay 5,000, some 10,000 naira ($30 to $60). Even though they have done nothing wrong, people are scared, people are afraid that even worse things will happen,” Makanjuola said recently.

The new law was passed by the Nigerian Parliament last year but not signed by the president, Goodluck Jonathan, until last week – when he did so quietly and without fanfare. Jonathan’s office confirmed Monday that the Nigerian leader had signed it.

The United States, Britain and Canada condemned the new law, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying Monday that it “dangerously restricts freedom” of expression and association of all Nigerians.

While harsh, Nigeria’s law is not as draconian as a bill passed last month by legislators in Uganda that is awaiting President Yoweri Museveni’s signature. It provides penalties including life imprisonment for “aggravated” homosexual sex. Initially, legislators had been demanding the death sentence for gays.

The Nigerian law provides penalties of up to 14 years in jail for a gay marriage and up to 10 years’ imprisonment for membership or encouragement of gay clubs, societies and organizations. That could include even groups formed to combat AIDS among gays, activists said.

The U.N. agency fighting AIDS and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria expressed “deep concern that access to HIV services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people will be severely affected” and that the law could harm Jonathan’s own presidential initiative to fight AIDS, started a year ago.

It said Nigeria has the second-largest HIV epidemic globally with an estimated 3.4 million people living with the virus.

Jonathan has not publicly expressed his views on homosexuality.

But his spokesman, Reuben Abati, said Monday night, “This is a law that is in line with the people’s cultural and religious inclination. So it is a law that is a reflection of the beliefs and orientation of Nigerian people. . . . Nigerians are pleased with it.”

Many have asked why such a law is needed in a country where sodomy already was outlawed, and could get you killed under Shariah. Ilela said sodomy carries the death sentence in Bauchi state, with a judge deciding whether it should be done by a public stoning or by lethal injection.

No gay person has been subjected to such punishment.

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