Nigerian Police arrest 67 at illegal gay wedding

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Police officers in Nigeria’s Delta State have paraded suspects in front of the media after they conducted a raid on a gay marriage ceremony that took place last week.

The gay marriage was being conducted in private in a hotel but the wedding guests fled after police broke into the venue.

“As the [police] operatives arrived at the hotel, the gay members immediately took to flight, scampering in different directions. The policemen chased and arrested 67 suspects, both male and female,” a police spokesperson told Nigeria’s Premium Times newspaper.

“The suspects and exhibits are in custody and efforts are intensified to ensure the arrest of the fleeing members for possible prosecution.”

Police reportedly learned of the marriage after intercepting an assigned male-at-birth person who was discovered wearing women’s clothing on their way to attend the wedding.

They allegedly told police they were part of a “gay club” and told the police about the wedding.

Draconian laws

Nigeria is one of the few countries in the world to criminalise same-sex marriage and introduced harsher penalties for sex between men in 2014.

Under the law, gay and bisexual men can theoretically be imprisoned for up to 14 years if convicted, and any persons who “witness, abet and aids the solemnisation of a same-sex marriage or civil union, or supports the registration, operation and sustenance of gay clubs, societies, organisations, processions or meetings” can be sentenced for up to 10 years imprisonment

As Nigerian law does not recognise the existence of transgender people, trans women who have sex with men could also be prosecuted under the law.

However Nigerian authorities have had problems implementing the law in practice.

When 47 men accused of being homosexuals were arrested in a hotel in Lagos in 2018 a federal judge threw out all charges against the men, who had pled “not-guilty”, due to a “lack of diligent prosecution” by the police.

That was the first time the law was put to the test since it was amended in 2014.

But homosexuality can be punished with stoning and public flogging under Sharia law in some of Nigeria’s majority Muslim northern states.

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Andrew M Potts

Andrew has been covering LGBTQIA+ issues for a range of publications in Australia over two decades and was the Asia-Pacific correspondent for global LGBTQIA+ news website Gay Star News.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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