The 19 Crimes website is reporting that the Islamic police force, known as Hisbah, recently raided a same-sex wedding in northern Nigeria and arrested 19 people for attending.
In the virulently anti-LGBTQ+ country, homosexuality is illegal based on both secular and the strict Islamic legal system known as Sharia law that functions in conjunction with the government in the majority Muslim state of Kano.
Nigeria’s Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, which was signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014, makes same-sex relationships punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Under Sharia law, it is punishable by death.
A spokesman for the police force, Lawal Ibrahim Fagge, said the 19 people who were arrested – which did not include the couple getting married, as they were able to flee – are not being formally charged with anything, but rather are being encouraged to change their “lifestyle” through “counseling.”
“We’ll explore the avenue of change before we charge them in court. First we counsel them, and involve the parents and we hope they change their lifestyle,” Fagge said.
Fagge added that last year, Hisbah arrested 18 people at another same-sex wedding, and that they were all released after promising (in writing) to “change their lifestyle.”
In July, three Nigerian men were sentenced to death by stoning in a Sharia court in the northern state of Bauchi.
What's life like for LGBTQ people in Nigeria?
What's life like for LGBTQ people in Nigeria? Let's take a look at some of the key equality indicators.
Is homosexuality legal in Nigeria?
No. Same-sex sexual activity is explicitly criminalised.
If convicted, the punishment can be up to 14 years in prison. There are a number of states that impose Sharia law – the penalty in these states is death.
Are there anti-discrimination protections in place for LGBTQ people in Nigeria?
There are no protections in place against discrimination on the grounds of sexuality.
Is there Marriage Equality in Nigeria?
There is no legal recognition of same-sex relationships, and legislation has been passed specifically prohibiting same-sex relationships and any suggestion of same-sex marriage.
What’s life like for LGBTQ people in Nigeria?
Nigeria is a socially conservative country, split between the Muslim north and the Christian south. Religion plays a significant role in shaping public opinion and attitudes.Homophobia is systemic, and LGBTQ people are actively targeted for state-sanctioned harassment, arrest, and persecution.
The major political parties are overtly hostile to LGBTQ people.Nigeria is widely recognised as one of the world’s most homophobic and aggressively anti-gay countries in the world.