At approximately 2am on Monday, August 28, Delta State police in Nigeria raided a hotel believed to be hosting a gay wedding.
Authorities initially arrested 100-200 people who claimed they were attending a fashion show, but after initial investigations, the majority were released with 67 remaining in detention. They are now facing prosecution for allegedly conducting and attending a same-sex wedding ceremony, and could be punished with up to 14 years in prison under Nigerian law.
In a post on X (formerly Twitter) published on Tuesday morning, Delta State Police announced the arrests and added that the names and faces of those detained will be publicly paraded in a Facebook live broadcast.
Delta State Command have Arrested over hundred gay suspects in a hotel carrying out a gay wedding ceremony. We will be going Live Shortly on Facebook to parade the said Suspects.
— Delta State Police Command (@DeltaPoliceNG) August 29, 2023
Nigeria has some of the most severe anti-LGBTQ+ laws in the world. The country offers no legal protections for gay people, and law enforcement actively targets and persecutes those suspected of engaging in LGBTQ+ relationships.
Nigeria’s Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act which was enacted in 2014, outlaws same-sex marriages and civil unions. According to this legislation, people in same-sex relationships can face of up to 14 years in prison.
Amnesty International Nigeria condemned the mass arrest and called on the police to release those who have been detained for attending the alleged gay wedding ceremony.
Amnesty International is calling on the Nigeria’s Delta state police command to immediately release the over 100 men,
arrested and paraded to the media, over allegedly organizing gay marriage and put an immediate end to this witch-hunt.
— Amnesty International Nigeria (@AmnestyNigeria) August 29, 2023
Local celebrities, including actress Georgina Onuoha have also demanded their release.
“They did not st£al, k#ll or h#rm anyone. Let them be,” actress Georgina Onuoha reacts to the arrest of over 100 suspected homos£x¥als by the police in Delta State.
Na thunder go fire that her mouth pic.twitter.com/wVHmhKXa6x
— EZEUGO (@banks_baggio) August 29, 2023
This is not the first time police disrupted a same-sex wedding in the country. Last December, police in Kano, Nigeria, arrested 19 young people for attending an alleged gay wedding in the city centre. Those arrested were released after signing a document indicating that they would “change their lifestyle”.
These arrests have a devastating impact on Nigeria’s LGBTQ+ community, but resilient as ever, they remain proud. Last year, Nigeria held a Pride festival which was “the first of its kind in terms of reach, registrations, impact, and size.” It included a Pride ball, drag competition and panels advocating for trans rights.
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