Over 50 people arrested in Nigeria for celebrating same-sex wedding

Gay marriage

Gay marriage

A police prosecutor said that the persons "conspired to celebrate a gay marriage" at a motel, and that the two men who were to be married were on the run.

Despite the harsh laws, many gay couples hold informal ceremonies with their loved ones.

Where is it illegal to be gay?

The suspects, who were arrested on April 15, have pled not guilty, but they could face 10 years in prison under Nigeria's strict laws against same-sex marriage.

The BBC reports that police in the country this month carried out a raid on an alleged ceremonial same-sex wedding in the city of Zaria.

The accused persons, however, denied the allegations leveled against them, and counsel to the accused, Yunusa Umar, applied for bail.

Maria Sjodin, deputy executive director of LGBTQ advocacy group OutRight Action International, said she believes the gay wedding story is just an "excuse" and part of the police's attempt to "crackdown on an emerging LGBTQ movement" in Nigeria. Ikeokwu adds that the police were "exploiting" the criminalization of same-sex marriage by labeling the event as such.

In 2014, then-President Goodluck Jonathan signed the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill (SSMPA) into law.

"Human Rights Watch research indicates that since January 2014, there have been rising incidents of mob violence, with groups of people gathering together and acting with a common intent of committing acts of violence against persons based on their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity".

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