Following a “gay wedding”, 76 people arrested in Nigeria

In northeastern Nigeria, more than 70 young people accused of organizing a gay wedding – which is considered a crime – have been arrested. Same-sex marriage is illegal in Nigeria under a 2014 law, and punishable by 14 years in prison.
“We apprehended 76 suspected homosexuals at a birthday party organized by one of them, who was due to marry his fiancé at the event”, said Buhari Saad, spokesman for the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) in Gombe State, a paramilitary organization under the government.
The arrested youths include 59 men and 17 women out of which 21 of the men “willfully confessed being gay”. Lawyers for those arrested could not immediately be contacted for comment or confirmation.
Intimidation of the LGBT+ community is rife in Nigeria, and in recent years security forces have staged numerous raids on parties where they claim marriages are taking place. However, none of those arrested have been convicted. In August, police arrested over a hundred men in similar circumstances in south-eastern Nigeria.
The human rights organization Amnesty International has called for an end to this “witch hunt”. “In a society where corruption is endemic, the law prohibiting same-sex relationships is increasingly being used for harassment, extortion and blackmail by law enforcement and other members of the public,” it also denounced.
In December, 19 men and women in their twenties were arrested in Kano, the largest city in northern Nigeria, by the Islamic police, known as Hisbah, on charges of organizing a gay wedding. The suspects were reprimanded and released without being brought to justice.
Gombe State, where the arrests took place on Saturday October 21, is also one of the Muslim-majority northern states where Islamic Sharia law is applied alongside the federal and state judicial systems. Under Sharia law, homosexual relations are punishable by death. However, this sentence has never been applied in northern Nigeria.
The NSCDC spokesman declined to say whether the suspects arrested on Saturday October 21 would be charged under Sharia law or ordinary law.