Idris, 28, Bauchi, North East, Nigeria

My name is Idris, I live in Bauchi and I am a student. It has been lot of challenges living as a gay man especially in the part of Nigeria. First, it is extremely risky and difficult because the region is very conservative and religious with diverse cultures and more so, there is the Sharia law. The law prescribes serious punishment for homosexual relationships. There are Sharia police that are called Hisbah and they patrol the streets day and night to apprehend anyone they feel has gone contrary to the Sharia code. I must say that the gay community has been most affected by their activities, especially with further encouragement which came with the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill. To try to let you understand what we go through, let me narrate my personal, gruesome experience to you.

Sometime ago, I was at a friend’s birthday party, and from nowhere, the Hisbah Vigilante swooped on us. We were twenty in number but two were lucky to escape. They rounded us up to their office, from where these dehumanizing tortures began. We were physically assaulted, repeatedly whipped on bare skin , intermittently.

As this was going on, my mind flashed back to an incident in Taraba state involving one of our friends who was beaten to death for similar assumed offence. Late on the second day, they moved us to the police station after series of torture and humiliation.

The police moved us to the prison after two days  without recourse to a court. We were remanded in prison for a whole week without being charged for any offence.  The police decided to move us to prison as they said because ”we don’t want this rubbish”. We were the rubbish. At the prison it was another nightmare entirely as the inmates and prison officials meted out their own dosage of both physical and mental abuse on us. We were eventually charged to court for homosexuality and indecency and we were lucky some human rights organization were on hand to bail us, but not after we had spent a whole two weeks in prison, just for attending a party, like they said without women members.

I live with fear, on a daily basis because of the rule of the mob. As I later realized, people are saying the police should avoid taking us to court because they feel the courts are lenient with homosexuals. So when they catch a gay, the tendency for extrajudicial killing is high.