Twenty-one youths have been arrested in Nigeria, apparently for belonging to a “gay cult”.
According to The Nation, the men, all under the age of 25, were found with 122 condoms in a house in Ibadan, the third most populous city in the country.
Police, who raided the house on 10 May, claimed that the men were conducting an “initiation” into their “evil” group.
Bizarrely, the only evidence cited against them in the article appears to be that they were in possession of the condoms, that there were no women in the house at the time and that the police received a tip that the men are gay.
Despite insisting that they had simply gathered for a birthday celebration, they were all arrested and taken to a local police station. No formal charges have yet been filed.
Representatives from The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIER) and the International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights (INCRESE) assisted the victims in arranging bail.
A TIER spokesperson claimed that the men were “physically assaulted” by police, “were photographed in their underwear, made to write statements under duress and locked up in an overcrowded cell.”
The groups also claimed that when the men returned to the police station four days later, police extorted more money from them before allowing them to go.
The arrests follow threats by Emmanuel Uduaghan, Governor of Nigeria’s Delta State, over Easter to crack down on what he claimed was a gay teen prostitution “cult” in the city of Warri.
The 21 young men could be jailed for 14 years if found guilty of engaging in homosexual acts.
Muslims in twelve northern states in Nigeria also live under Islamic Sharia law, which allows homosexuality to be punished with death by stoning. Although this sentence is rarely carried out, those found guilty have recently most commonly been sentenced to public flogging.