An Islamic court in Nigeria has put on trial 11 Muslim men accused of violating their religion due to their alleged sexuality – if found guilty they could be sentenced to death by stoning.

The trials are taking place in the country’s northern state of Bauchi.

Jibrin Danlami Hassan, the commissioner of Bauchi state’s Sharia Commission, said the men were arrested by residents of Bauchi city.

They were handed to the Islamic police force, which interrogated them, he said.

“They accept that they are doing that dirty game,” Mr Hassan told the BBC.

A Nigerian gay rights campaigner from the Nigeria-based International Centre for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights said some of those arrested had been beaten up and tortured.

The claims were denied by Mr Hassan.

Predominantly Muslim states in Nigeria introduced Sharia law, a legal system based on Islamic theory and philosophy of justice, in 2000.

Under Sharia law, a person can be sentenced to death by stoning if convicted of homosexuality.

Reports say that a 12th person arrested in Bauchi – a Christian – would be tried under secular law.

Several stoning sentences have been handed down by Sharia courts in northern Nigeria since 1999; however, none have so far been carried out.

There has been worldwide condemnation of Nigeria after the country’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, signed into law a draconian anti-gay bill.

Anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage or civil union may be jailed for up to 14 years. The law also bans people who register, operate or participate in gay clubs, societies or organisations, or who publicly show that they are in a same-sex relationship.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, US Secretary of State John Kerry and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague have all criticised President Jonathan’s decision.

Same-sex relationships were already illegal in the country prior to the new law passing.