Three Nigerian men will be stoned to death following homosexuality conviction

The sentence follows reports of a gay man being executed in Iran over “sodomy” charges 

Three men were reportedly sentenced to death in Nigeria over allegations that they had engaged in same-sex intercourse. 

On June 30, an Islamic Shariah court in the northern Nigerian state of Bauchi ordered the individuals to be stoned to death, according to various reports. The accused include 3o-year-old Abdullahi Beti, 20-year-old Kamilu Ya’u and 70-year-old Mal Haruna. Adam Dan Kafi, head of the religious police for the city of Ningi, confirmed the charges in a statement to Reuters.

All three men confessed to the charges brought against them, although Kafi noted that they did not have legal representation during their detention or the subsequent trial.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest country by population, does not mandate capital punishment for homosexuality under its federal laws. Although same-sex intercourse is currently illegal under the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act passed in 2014, punishment is set at a maxiumum sentence of up to 14 years in prison. Twelve states, however, have their own Shariah laws on the books mandating harsher sentences for homosexuality.

Bauchi, which is 85 percent Muslim, has been governed by Shariah law since 2001. Governor Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed is required to approve all death penalty convictions by Shariah courts prior to the sentence being carried out, and the accused will have 30 days to appeal the judge’s ruling.

The sentence has drawn criticism from Nigeria’s small but growing LGBTQ+ community. In response to the charges, actor Uche Maduagwu came out as gay in a since-removed Instagram post calling the country’s Shariah laws “erroneous” and “undemocratic.” He also called on U.S. president Joe Biden to sanction Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari for “ignoring the fundamental human rights” of LGBTQ+ people. 

Nigeria has come under fire in recent months for pushing a proposed law that would criminalize trans identities. In April, its House of Representatives introduced a bill that would penalize acts of “cross-dressing” with a potential sentence of six months in jail and a fine of CAD $1,500.

LGBTQ+ advocates in Nigeria called on the public to bring greater awareness to the plight its queer and trans community faces.

“I remember when that girl was burned to death by religious extremists and the whole Twitter was on fire,” tweeted YouTuber Victor Emmanuel in response to the death penalty sentence being handed out. “Now three men have been sentenced to death by stoning for homosexuality in Bauchi and y’all are quiet?????”

Nigeria isn’t the only country to impose draconian punishments against members of its extremely marginalized LGBTQ+ populace. On June 29, Iman Safavi Rad was hanged in Iran after being charged with “sodomy,” according to The Jerusalem Post. Iranian activist Dr. Kazem Moussavi reportedly confirmed that Rad was a gay man.


Iran is one of at least 13 countries with federal laws on the books mandating the death penalty for acts of gay sex, although its penal code typically mandates harsher sentencing for the receptive partner. Other acts of physical affection shared between either male or female partners, such as “kissing or touching as a result of lust,” are punishable by up to 74 lashes. The sentence for lesbian intercourse is 100 lashes.

Unlike countries where capital punishment is rarely enforced for homosexuality, Iran executes its LGBTQ+ citizens with relative frequency. Rad was at least the third gay man to face the death penalty this year, as the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported. 

LGBTQ+ rights activist Peter Tatchell said the killing is “consistent with Iran’s state policy of the death penalty for same-sex relations.”

“What is certain is that this man almost certainly did not receive a fair trial under the notoriously biased Iranian judicial system,” he said in a statement to The Jerusalem Post. “Defendants are routinely denied access to lawyers and defence witnesses. They can be sentenced after brief ‘trials’ lasting as little as 20 minutes, with lawyers provided only shortly before the court hearing starts. People can be found guilty without corroborating evidence.”

Although Iran typically does not publicize executions of LGBTQ+ people to avoid international scrutiny, several cases have received notable media attention. Gay men have been put to death in Iran in 2005, 2011, 2012, 2016 and 2021, the latter of which saw a gay couple hanged for “adultery.”  

Iran was rated the world’s most dangerous country for LGBTQ+ travellers in 2020.

Nico Lang

Nico Lang is an award-winning reporter and editor, and former contributing editor at Xtra. Their work has been featured in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, Washington Post, Vox, BuzzFeed, Jezebel, The Guardian, Out, The Advocate, and the L.A. Times.

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