Nigeria Arrested 47 Men In A Hotel And Is Trying Them Under Its Anti-Gay Laws

Kevin Mwanza
Written by Kevin Mwanza
A poster with two hands held together with inscription ”Maintain one sexual partner” is seen in an office in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. Police, working off a list of 168 suspects purportedly obtained through torture, are arresting dozens of gay men in Nigeria’s northern Bauchi state, human rights activists said Tuesday. A new law in Nigeria, dubbed the “Jail the Gays” bill, is encouraging the persecution of gays and will endanger programs fighting HIV-AIDS in the gay community, said Dorothy Aken’Ova, executive director of Nigeria’s International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights. On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan’s office confirmed that the Nigerian leader signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that criminalizes gay marriage, gay organizations and anyone working with or promoting them. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Nigerian authorities arrested 47 men in a Lagos hotel and charged them for practicing homosexuality, which is outlawed in the West African country.

The men were among 57 others arrested by police in a raid on a hotel in Lagos in 2018. They are accused of showing public displays of affection with members of the same sex, an offense that carries a 10-year jail term according to anti-gay laws in Nigeria.

The men pleaded innocent at a hearing in November 2019.

Their arrest and the charges against them came five years after Nigeria passed a law banning gay marriage and same-sex “amorous relationships”.

“People have been detained, men and women, at different gatherings but no cases had ever gone before a judge. We have to establish that people have a right to meet that shouldn’t be a crime under any law in any country,” Xeenarh Mohammed, the executive director of the Lagos-based Initiative for Equal Rights, told The Guardian.

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As in many conservative African societies, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people face significant legal and societal discrimination and violence in Nigeria.

In northern states, where Sharia Laws or Islamic laws are enforced, individuals convicted of homosexual offenses could get a death sentence, according to Human Rights Watch.