More than 60 people remanded in jail for attending alleged gay wedding in Nigeria

Police arrest at least 67 suspects over same-sex wedding ceremony.

More than 60 Nigerians are languishing in prison for simply attending a suspected gay wedding.

Individuals currently detained in the southern city of Warri, in the south of the African country, are to remain behind bars after a court granted a remand request from the police on Monday (4 September).

“The suspects have been arraigned in court today and the judge has ruled that they be remanded in prison for two weeks,” a police officer said.

Police spokesperson, Bright Edafe, told local media on 28 August that officers had raided a ceremony believed to be a same-sex wedding, arresting 100 people before scaling the number down to 67.

While it is not known exactly how many were remanded in custody, it is believed that at all are currently in jail.

Defence lawyer Ochuko Ohimor, who is representing several of the suspects, said that the next hearing is set for 18 September and he is working on their release.

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He estimated that 69 individuals were being held, adding that they faced charged connected to LGBTQ+ promotion by attending the wedding.

“All we are doing now is to bring up bail applications on their behalf,” he said. “If it is found meritorious, [the court] can admit them to bail.

“The bail application can come before the expiration of the 14-day remand order,” he continued.

Nigeria is considered to be one of the worst places in the world to live as an LGBTQ+ person.

Homosexuality is outlawed, and the 2013 Same-Sex (Prohibition) Act makes it illegal for same-sex individuals to marry.

The law also restricts public displays of same-sex relationships, punishing anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage or civil union with 14 years in prison and a 10-year sentence for those who facilitate or take part in such a union.

In some regions of the country, which are ruled by Sharia Law, the punishment can include execution.

The community-driven LGBTQ+ rights index Equaldex places Nigeria 192nd out of 197 countries for LGBTQ+ safety.

That’s just above Somalia, which puts anyone openly identifying as LGBTQ+ to death.

Human rights groups across the world took the situation as a chance to not only call for the release of the individuals but also to shame Nigeria for its “unlawful” LGBTQ+ rights laws.

Human Rights Watch said that authorities should “ensure accountability” for the police’s decision to livestream the arrests and “urgently” end the practice.

“They should release without charge everyone arrested under the anti-gay law, and seek its repeal,” the statement continued.

“No one’s life should be criminalised simply because of their real or perceived sexual orientation.”

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