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67 arrested in Nigeria for attending gay wedding: police

Nearly 70 people were arrested at an alleged gay wedding ceremony in Nigeria under the country’s draconian anti-LGBTQ law, local police said Tuesday.

Authorities say the suspects were attending the event at a hotel in the southern state of Delta around 2 a.m. on Monday.

Police raided the hotel “acting on intelligence gathered” and initially arrested approximately 200 “gay suspects,” Bright Edafe, with the Nigeria Police Force, told reporters from a police station where the suspects were paraded to the media.

Of those arrested, 67 were later detained. They will be charged “upon completion of the investigation,” Edafe said.

“The amazing part of it was that we saw two suspects — and there is a video recording — where they were performing their wedding ceremony,” he said. “We are in Africa and we are in Nigeria. We cannot copy the Western world because we don’t have the same culture.”

Nigeria’s Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill — which was signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan in January 2014 — imposes a 14-year prison sentence on anyone who “[enters] into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union,” and a 10-year sentence on individuals or groups, including religious leaders, who “witness, abet, and aid the solemnization of a same-sex marriage or union.”

It also imposes a 10-year prison sentence on those who “directly or indirectly make [a] public show of [a] same-sex amorous relationship” and anyone who “registers, operates, or participates in gay clubs, societies, and organizations,” including supporters of those groups.

Mass arrests on anti-LGBTQ grounds are not uncommon in the West African nation.

In 2020, a judge threw out a case against 47 men who faced charges of public display of affection with a member of the same sex after police failed to present some of their witnesses.

The men had been arrested in 2018 during a police raid on a hotel in Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous city.

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