Om Saturday afternoon, Nigerian police reportedly arrested 42 men for homosexual acts in a hotel in Lagos state, the southwestern region of Nigeria.
The men could each receive 40 years in jail if convicted.
Nigerian police allegedly arrested men “caught in the act” of homosexuality
The men had gathered at the Vincent Hotel for an event which sought to raise awareness about HIV, according to a local gay rights activist. Police from the Owode Onirin Division, a municipal region just above Lagos, raided the event and sequestered the men within the hotel so they could not escape.
A local resident who identified himself only as Tunji told the press, “There have been reports that the hotel harbors homosexuals. They were there this afternoon when policemen struck. About 40 of them were caught in the act.”
While Tunji claimed that the men had been “caught in the act,” it’s unclear what he’s implying and how he would know. The police have reportedly cordoned off the hotel while they conduct an investigation. They have also handed the men over to the Lagos State Task Force where the arrestees will soon force court charges.
A short history of Nigeria’s anti-LGBTQ laws and their effect
Nigeria has banned same-sex relationships since 1901, and passed laws in 2013 criminalizing same-sex marriages, gay and lesbian gatherings and any public displays of same-sex affection.
A 2015 survey conducted by London-based gay Nigerian activist organization found that 87% of Nigerian residents consider homosexuality a way of life that society shouldn’t accept. LGBTQ people there face daily threats of violence and arrest as well as exorcism and ex-gay conversion therapy.
In January 2017, a comedy sketch about an anti-gay sexual assault gained moderate infamy after being viewed 875,000 times on Facebook. In April 2017, authorities in the north Nigerian state of Kaduna reportedly arrested and charged 53 people with conspiracy, unlawful assembly and belonging to an unlawful society over their alleged celebration of a gay wedding. Reportedly, 45 of the 53 arrestees skipped bail and went into hiding after being released from jail.
In Nigeria, strict enforcement of anti-gay laws and subsequent torture of those arrested has stopped many men from seeking help from local AIDS organizations.
Featured image by Fridah via iStock