Nigerian police officers have apprehended 53 young men for celebrating a gay wedding and alleged them for “belonging to a gang of unlawful society.” The accused were apprehended last Saturday in the northern city of Zaria.
Gay marriage or homosexual acts are prohibited in Nigeria and they are punishable of up to 14 years in jail but some couples organize an informal ceremony.
A deputy executive director of LGBTQ support group, OutRight Action International, Maria Sjodin, assumes that the incident is just an “excuse” and part of the plans of the police to “crackdown on an emerging LGBTQ movement” in Nigeria.
“Only the police claim that it was a wedding party,” she told a news agency. She also added that her informants in Nigeria told her organization that the event was not a wedding party but a birthday party.
“The police are using the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act as an excuse for mass arrests, maybe even as a way to get bribes.”
“The Nigerian law is much more far reaching than just same-sex marriage, it really is a way to crackdown on anyone advocating for human rights of LGBT people,” Sjodin said.
In a court appearance in Chediya-Zaria, the arrested men pleaded not guilty to the charges of conspiracy, unlawful assembly and belonging to an unlawful society. They were permitted bail and their next hearing is set on May 8.