MambaOnline has deliberately obscured the faces of the individuals in this police photograph. We made the decision to share this distressing image to highlight the degrading and dehumanising circumstances that members of the LGBTQ+ community in Nigeria endure due to oppressive laws that criminalise their existence and relationships.
Police in Nigeria have paraded dozens of individuals arrested in a raid on what authorities have described as a “gay marriage ceremony”.
According to a statement by Delta police spokesperson Edafe Bright, the police were alerted to the event when they apprehended “a male cross-dresser” on Sunday night.
After questioning, the individual allegedly “confessed that he is a member of a certain gay club and that he was on his way to join his fellow members for a gay marriage ceremony.”
Police conducted a raid at the Teebolus Hotel, the alleged wedding venue, chasing down fleeing guests and ultimately arresting sixty-seven individuals.
The “suspects” are accused of attending a same-sex wedding ceremony between two men in their 20s, with one of them referred to as “the bride”.
During the search of the venue, police discovered items including “four tablets of molly drug” and “gay marriage ceremonial dresses”. Additionally, one man claimed to have been under the influence of alcohol when engaging in sexual activity with another man at the hotel.
Videos showing the ceremony were posted on Facebook by the police, depicting an individual dressed in a white wedding gown surrounded by guests also dressed in white.
Humiliating group pictures of the arrested individuals huddled together at the police station were also shared on the page, likely outing some and putting them at risk of further discrimination and abuse.
“The suspects and evidence are in custody, and efforts are being intensified to apprehend the remaining members for potential prosecution,”
“The suspects and exhibits are in custody and efforts are intensified to ensure the arrest of the fleeing members for possible prosecution,” said Bright.
CP Wale Abass, the Commissioner of Police, stated that “Delta state is no place for any sort of same-sex relationship… [and] that marriage is valid only when it is contracted between a man and a woman.”
He additionally cautioned that “explicit or implicit public show[ing] of amorous relationships between people of the same sex is prohibited in the state [and] that any act of defiance is detrimental and deviants would be brought to book in accordance with Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, 2013.”
The commissioner went on to encourage the public to come forward with information “to assist the police in upholding the moral standards of society…”
Nigeria enforces some of the world’s most severe anti-LGBTQ laws. In addition to Sharia criminalisation, under colonial-era legislation, anyone found guilty of engaging in homosexual acts can be jailed for 14 years.
The Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, signed into law in 2014, further criminalises same-sex marriages and relationships, with potential penalties of up to 14 years in prison. The law also stipulates a 10-year jail term for public displays of same-sex affection and for involvement with or support of LGBTQ groups.