42 arrested in Nigeria for ‘homosexual acts’
Over 40 men were arrested in Nigeria over the weekend for performing “homosexual acts”.
Following a police raid in Lagos state at a hotel on Saturday, it is believed that 42 men were arrested.
The men, who are accused of homosexuality, are due to appear in court today.
If found to be guilty, they could face up to 14 years in jail.
Witnesses of the arrest who live in the local area
claimed that the hotel was known to “harbour homosexuals”.
LGBT people in the country face unprecedented homophobia.
It has been illegal to be gay in Nigeria for a long time, but a 2013 law increased penalties and included same-sex unions as well as gay sex in what is criminalised.
Under the law, people who enter any form of same-sex union are liable for 14 years’ imprisonment, while people who “witness, abet and aids the solemnization of a same sex marriage or civil union” can face up to 10 years in jail.
Chibuihe Obi had published an essay talking about his own experience with discrimination.
It’s believed that he was kidnapped by “homophobic thieves” who are thought to target LGBT writers who they “hunt down and kill”.
Obi was later returned following an outcry.
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Earlier this year 53 people faced criminal charges as police claimed that they had attended a same-sex wedding.
45 of those jumped bail and warrants were put out for their arrest.
Defence lawyer Yunusa Umar said most of the accused were students, and claimed they had been celebrating a birthday and not a same-sex union.
There is a strong social taboo around homosexuality in Nigeria, driven by a strong anti-LGBT evangelical Christian movement in the south and the spread of hardline Islam in the north.
Human rights groups say the 2013 Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act has been exploited to target the LGBT community.
A recent Human Rights Watch report stated: “While existing legislation already criminalizes consensual same-sex conduct in Nigeria, the report found that the SSMPA, in many ways, officially authorizes abuses against LGBT people, effectively making a bad situation worse.
“The passage of the SSMPA was immediately followed by extensive media reports of high levels of violence, including mob attacks and extortion against LGBT people.