Police To Prosecute 67 People Connected To Alleged Same-Sex Wedding In Nigeria

‘We are Nigeria, and we must follow the culture of this country,’ a Nigerian police spokesman says.

Police in Nigeria’s southern Delta state said Tuesday (Aug. 29) that they will prosecute 67 people accused of conducting and attending a same-sex wedding after arresting more than 200 people at the gathering where a gay couple was allegedly married, CNN reports.

Authorities announced the arrests at a live broadcast where they paraded some of the suspects. A police spokesperson said, “We cannot copy the Western world… we are Nigeria and we must follow the culture of this country.”

The West African country is one of several nations on the continent that outlaws same-sex relationships. In Uganda, LGBTQ people face the death penalty.

Ugandan Man Faces Death Penalty Under Harsh Anti-Gay Law

Police said they found out about the alleged wedding ceremony from an attendee who was stopped during a routine patrol. The suspect told officers that he was an actor but later confessed under interrogation that he is a member of “a certain gay club” and was headed to another member’s marriage. Officers found alleged prohibited substances when they raided the event, including “four tablets of molly drug” and “gay marriage ceremonial dresses.”

At the police press conference, some of the suspects told reporters that they were not gay but are models and fashion designers.

Meanwhile, human rights activists denounced the arrests and the targeting of people in Nigeria’s LGBTQ community.

“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,” a statement from Amnesty International Nigeria read, demanding the immediate release of the suspects.

Entering into a same-sex marriage or civil union is punishable by up to 14 years in prison under Nigerian law, The New York Times reports. It also penalizes those who perform or witness a same-sex wedding ceremony with up to 10 years in prison. Consequently, such couples travel outside Nigeria to places where these unions are legal.

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