Police in Delta State, Nigeria, on Tuesday, arrested scores of young men and women suspected of being gay and lesbians at a same-sex marriage ceremony in the state.
Police spokesperson in the state, Bright Edafe, said police operatives had intercepted a cross-dresser who confessed that he was a member of a gay club and was on his way to attend a same-sex marriage ceremony. The cross-dresser led the operatives to the venue of the ceremony at Teebolus Hotel, off Refinery Road, Ekpan in Warri.
The police said the marriage ceremony was for a gay couple: Daniel Pius (groom) and 22-year-old Maxwell Ohwonohwo (bride). “When the operatives arrived at the hotel, the gay members immediately took flight, running in different directions. The policemen chased and arrested 67 suspects, both male and female,” Mr. Edafe said.
He said a suspect, 23-year-old Abel Daniel, admitted that he had anal sex with another male suspect who is at large while under the influence of alcohol. The police recovered tramadol, other hard drugs, and gay marriage ceremonial dresses at the scene, Mr. Edafe said.
“The suspects and exhibits are in custody, and efforts are being intensified to arrest the fleeing members for possible prosecution
Same-sex relationships are criminalized in Nigeria, and its penal code approves a punishment of up to 14 years in prison for people who are convicted of entering into a same-sex civil union. Accomplices may face 10 years in prison. Arrest of gays and lesbians in Nigeria intensified following the signing of Nigeria’s anti-gay law, enacted in January 2014 by former President Goodluck. The controversial law stipulates a 14-year prison term for anyone convicted of having sex with members of the same sex. In December 2019, the police in Lagos arraigned a group of 47 men in court for homosexuality. The men, who were arrested in a Lagos hotel during a police raid in 2017, have been accused of “committing homosexual acts” in a “gay initiation party”. Police said they were accused of “permitting male persons to have carnal knowledge of themselves against the order of nature.”
A federal judge later struck out the charges against the men because of a “lack of diligent prosecution” by the police.