Over 60 persons who attended a homosexual wedding in Nigeria have been detained, adding to an ongoing crackdown on the LGBT+ community in Africa’s most populous country.
Government officials made the arrests because of a 2014 legislation that makes it possible to spend up to 14 years in jail for participating in or entering into a same-sex marriage or civil union in Nigeria and up to 10 years for administering or witnessing such a ceremony.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has criticized this bill, claiming it undermines safeguards for fundamental freedoms.
Police spokesperson Bright Edafe said the arrests showed the nation will crack down on homosexual marriage. According to him, same-sex weddings are very unusual in Nigeria since most couples tie the knot in a country where it is legally permissible. In a Facebook video, one accused explained to reporters that he had been dressed in a skirt and crop top for a fashion display and that the occasion had been a party, not a wedding ceremony.
Warri is a city in southern Nigeria where the most recent arrests were made during a police raid on the Teebilos Hotel. The police announced on X on Sunday that they had detained “a male cross-dresser” who claimed to be an actress and a member of “a specific homosexual club.”
A master of ceremonies introduces a performer on stage while a video of the event is sent on social media, including the bride in a white gown and veil and the groom in a white suit.
The country director for Amnesty International in Nigeria, Isa Sanusi, says homophobia was already present before the 2014 law was implemented, but that law has since been used to oppress LGBT+ persons further. Additionally, he criticized the police for publishing images and videos of people detained at the rally, saying that doing so constitutes a gross breach of their subjects’ human rights.