Sharia police in northern Nigeria have arrested 12 “feminine” young men in the middle of a party that police allege was actually a gathering to celebrate a gay wedding.
It wasn’t a marriage ceremony, said 18- to 20-year-old Faruk Maiduguri, whom police accuse of planning to marry 25-year-old Abba Mohammed.
” ‘It was my birthday party, not a gay wedding,’ he said in tears,” according to Agence France-Presse.
Aminu Daurawa, the head of the local sharia enforcement group known as Hisbah, said the group of men “looked and acted feminine,” which prompted their arrest.
Nigerian activist Davis Mac-Iyalla was outraged.
“Nigerian police and government have no right to invade people’s private parties. The press have label this a gay wedding to make it look like a crime and taboo,” said Mac-Iyalla, who lives in London because his life would be at risk if he had remained in Nigeria.
He added, “Shamefully, Nigerian authorities are unable to combat Boko Haram terrorists slaughtering citizens, but they are right on top of persecuting gays. …
“When they invaded the party and saw that the guys are innocent, harmless people, why not apologise and just go? But they want to persecute them because they suspect them to be homosexuals. I am so angry that the authorities in the country of my birth don’t have any form of respect for human rights. This includes top religious leaders in Nigeria too,” he said.
“The suspects, most of them teenagers, were detained [Jan. 26] at a popular resort on the outskirts of the city, said the head of the Hisbah, Aminu Daurawa. …
“It was not clear whether they would be charged but their families had been summoned, he added.
“In January last year, more than a dozen men suspected of organising a gay wedding were arrested and charged in Bauchi by the Sharia agency.
“Some of them were discharged while others were released on bail.”
Daurawa claimed that the police raid saved the party-goers from being lynched by irate youth living nearby, who would have been upset to hear about a gay wedding, Vanguard reported.
He also said, according to Vanguard, via AllAfrica.com:
“We got an intelligence report that some youth, all men, were planning a wedding of two of their friends, and that Faruk and Abba (bride), who is on the run, had under the guise of celebrating Faruk’s birthday sent out invitations on WhatsApp and printed out cards that friends should join them in the epoch-making event.”
Sharia law, which can impose the death penalty for homosexual activity by men, applies in Muslim-majority northern Nigeria, but no such punishment has been reported there.
In addition, Nigeria’s national law provides for up to 14 years in prison for homosexual acts involving either men or women.
Early last year, Nigeria enacted an additional law, formally known as the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, which calls for prison sentences of up to 14 years for any Nigerian who enters into a same-sex marriage and up to 10 years to anyone who attends or assists in a same-sex wedding in Nigeria.
The new law also prohibits a “public show of same-sex amorous relationship” and would impose a 10-year prison sentence for those convicted.
It also threatens 10-year prison terms for anyone who organizes or takes part in a meeting of gay men, apparently even including anti-HIV informational meetings, as well as 10 years in prison for any members of what could be classified as a “gay organization,” whether it is seeking recognition of human rights for LGBTI people, meeting the spiritual needs of LGBTI people, or providing health care for LGBTI people.
Daurawa said the suspects came from Kano, the northern cities of Maiduguri, Kaduna and Bauchi, and Ibadan and Osogbo in the southwest, AFP reported. It was not clear whether they would be charged but their families had been summoned, AFP said, citing Daurawa.
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