An Islamic sharia court in Bauchi, Nigeria sentenced three men to death by stoning after they were convicted of engaging in homosexuality, Adam Dan Kafi, the leader of the Hisbah religious police force, announced on 1 July.

He stated that the men, one of which is a 70-year-old, were arrested on 14 June before being charged in a sharia court, Reuters reported.

None of them had legal representation and all ‘confessed’ to their apparent crimes, Kafi added.

Bauchi is one of 12 Nigerian states which subscribes to the Islamic legal system and adopts death by stoning as the maximum punishment for same-sex sexual activity. 

The state governor must approve any death penalty passed in the country’s sharia courts and the three men have 30 days to appeal the sentence, which was given on 30 June.

Nigeria is still a deeply religious place where homosexuality is not generally accepted and remains illegal.

The country’s Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act restricts both gay relationships and public affection, with punishments of up to 14 years in prison.

Despite this, the reported numbers of LGBTQ+ Nigerians have grown in recent years, though they tend to remain behind closed doors due to safety concerns.