A Nigerian court has extended bail to 69 individuals who were apprehended last month during a police operation targeting what authorities labeled a "gay wedding." This development highlights the ongoing debate surrounding homosexuality in Nigeria, where public sentiment widely regards it as morally unacceptable.
Nigeria enforces stringent legislation against same-sex marriage, and these arrests underscore the challenging environment for LGBTQ+ individuals in the country. To secure their release, the defendants, as mandated by the court, must each pay a sum exceeding $600 (£480).
The incident occurred in the city of Warri, where law enforcement authorities acted upon a tip regarding the alleged gay wedding. However, the handling of the case has attracted criticism from Human Rights Watch, which expressed concerns about the public parading of suspects before the media and the aggressive interrogation regarding the accusations.
Notably, Nigeria enacted legislation nearly a decade ago that criminalized public displays of same-sex relationships, carrying penalties of up to 10 years in prison, with up to 14 years for those convicted of same-sex marriage. Despite international disapproval, these laws remain in effect.
In a related case from 2019, the Lagos State Police prosecuted 47 men under these laws. However, the court dismissed the case due to the police's failure to appear and present witnesses, highlighting the complex legal landscape surrounding LGBTQ+ rights in Nigeria.