Dozens Detained in Nigeria's Same-Sex Wedding Bust

09:51 30.08.2023

Police in Nigeria have arrested over 60 individuals who were attending a same-sex wedding, furthering the crackdown on LGBTQ individuals in the country. The authorities not only arrested the attendees but also shared their identities on social media, calling on the public to help "uphold the moral standards of society" by providing relevant information. This has raised concerns about potential stigma and violence that those who attended the event may face. Nigeria's Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, enacted in 2014, imposes severe penalties for anyone involved in a same-sex marriage or civil union, including imprisonment for up to 14 years. The law has been criticized by international human rights organizations, with the U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry, stating that it violates basic human rights protections.

Bright Edafe, a police spokesman in Delta State, emphasized that these arrests symbolize Nigeria's firm stance against gay unions, stating, "We are in Africa, and we are in Nigeria. We cannot copy the Western world because we don't have the same culture." Same-sex weddings are rare in Nigeria, with many couples opting to hold their ceremonies in countries where it is legal to do so. According to Edafe, the authorities aim to prevent such unions from becoming common in Nigeria.

In a video posted by the Nigerian police on Facebook, one of the charged individuals claimed to be wearing a skirt and crop top for a fashion show rather than attending a same-sex wedding. He denied being gay and stated that the event had been a party rather than a wedding ceremony. This follows a similar case in Lagos in 2020, where 47 men charged with public displays of affection with same-sex partners were acquitted due to prosecutors' failure to appear in court and call witnesses.

The recent arrests occurred after police officers raided the Teebilos Hotel in Warri, a city in southern Nigeria. The police claimed on Twitter that they had stopped a male cross-dresser who said he was an actor and belonged to a "certain gay club." According to Edafe, the arrested individuals are currently being held and may face charges pending further investigation. It remains unclear who is representing them legally.

Amnesty International's country director for Nigeria, Isa Sanusi, highlighted that homophobia had been an issue in Nigeria even before the enactment of the 2014 law, but the legislation has exacerbated the situation by giving people the pretext to violate the human rights of LGBTQ individuals. Sanusi also criticized the police for publishing photos and videos of the arrested individuals, as this puts them at risk of further violence. He described such actions as a complete violation of human rights.

Nigeria is among the approximately 60 countries worldwide that criminalize homosexuality, with many of these countries situated in Africa. In recent years, some African nations have passed or pledged to introduce even harsher penalties for same-sex relationships. For instance, Uganda passed a draconian law in May that includes the death penalty for certain homosexual acts and life imprisonment for engaging in gay sex. Two men in Uganda have been charged with "aggravated homosexuality" this summer, a crime punishable by death.

/ Wednesday, August 30, 2023, 9:51 AM /

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