A Sharia court in Nigeria has sentenced a lesbian couple to lashes and imprisonment, reports the country’s Punch newspaper.

Hajiya Ai’sha and Malama Hauwa were given 20 lashes and jailed for six months because their lesbian relationship is “contrary” to Islamic law.

According to the newspaper, Ai’sha told the court in Tudun Wada, Kaduna, that she had paid a dowry for 23 year old Hauwa and had been living with her as a “married” couple for five years.

She recently demanded the return of the dowry after she suspected Hauwa of being unfaithful. This led the matter to being referred to the police and the couple’s subsequent arrest.

Both women told the court that they regretted their actions, had learnt a lesson, and would pray for forgiveness.

Homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria with possible sentences including imprisonment and, in some states which operate under extremely conservative Islamic Sharia law, the death penalty.

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