69 people arrested for attending ‘gay wedding’ in Nigeria freed on bail
The 69 suspects who were arrested in Nigeria last month in connection with an alleged gay wedding have been released on bail.
Over 200 people were arrested in a police raid at a reported same-sex wedding celebration in Nigeria’s southern Delta State in late August. Of that 200, 69 individuals were prosecuted for allegedly conducting and attending a same-sex wedding ceremony.
Homosexuality, as well as same-sex marriages, is outlawed in Nigeria and can result in a punishment of up to 14 years in prison, or 10 years for accomplices.
On Tuesday (19 September), a high court in Warri, Delta state ruled that those who were being held behind bars could be freed after posting a 500,000 naira (£520) bail.
Suspects would also be ordered to sign a register once a month until their next hearing, their lawyer Ochuko Ohimor said.
State prosecutors have opposed the court’s decision to let the detainees go free.
“They have been granted bail officially by the court under very reasonable terms,” Ohimor told CNN in an interview.
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“All of them should be out this week. They need a surety who will show evidence of income and must be resident within the judicial division. The surety should be able to earn at least one million naira ($1,290) in a year.”
Following the initial arrest, authorities paraded the suspects before spectators and journalists.
Police spokesperson Bright Edafe told local media at the time: “We are bringing this out to the world to know, especially Nigerians, we are in Africa and we cannot copy the Western culture because we do not have the same structure and tradition.”
Law enforcement officials were reportedly first tipped off about the wedding when they came across an attendee during their routine patrol.
Amnesty International had condemned the arrests, describing them as a violation of “a range of human rights”, and a “witch hunt.”
Their statement read: “In a society where corruption is rampant, the law banning same-sex relationships is increasingly being used for harassment, extortion, and blackmail of people by law enforcement officers and other members of the public. This is unacceptable.”
Ohimor, who represented all 69 suspects, says that he has faced “serious criticism” for taking them on as clients.
“I have been scandalized,” he told CNN.
“Some say I’m a gay lawyer that’s why I’m defending them. People look at me with disgust for standing for them.”
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