Nigeria: Feminine man provokes police raid

Sokoto scene (Photo courtesy of NoStringsNG)
Sokoto scene (Photo courtesy of NoStringsNG)

Police last weekend raided a celebration in Nigeria’s northwestern region in an attempt to break up a reported “gay wedding.”

The owner of the wedding venue was reportedly arrested, but police on Monday acknowledged that the raid was based on a misunderstanding.

They said they stormed the alleged gay marriage venue because they were informed that a man — a member of Muslim Nigeria’s “yan daudu” subculture — was there acting like a woman.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Almustapha Sani, who spoke to on behalf of the Sokoto State Police Command to the Daily Trust newspaper, said that police investigations revealed that there was no gay marriage. He said:

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“There was actually marriage between a male and female, but because of the presence of ‘Yan Daudu,’ who were mimicking female mannerisms, people in the area thought it was a gay marriage and alerted the police.”

However, the police, without proper initial investigations into the matter, hurriedly went ahead to wrongfully arrest two men in relation to the allegation. This was also confirmed by Sani.

Alhaji Shehu Adamu, the house owner who was rumored to have been arrested in relation to the matter, confirmed that a ceremony actually took place there, but said that those who hired the venue were women with whom he is well acquainted and that they told him it was a wedding ceremony.

Yan daudu, the Guardian reports, are members of a previously accepted subculture who in recent years have been targeted for persecution:

Ameera, a member of the Yan Daudu community in northern Nigeria. (Afolabi Sotunde photo courtesy of the Guardian)
Ameera, a member of the Yan Daudu community in northern Nigeria. (Afolabi Sotunde photo courtesy of the Guardian)

[Yan daudu is] shorthand for “men who act like women” in northern Nigeria’s Hausa language. The phrase means “sons of Daudu,” a fun-loving, gambling spirit worshipped in the Muslim Bori practice, whose trance and dancing rituals are traditionally associated with marginalised poor women, sex workers and disabled people.

For more than a century, hundreds of yan daudu were tolerated as part of an unremarkable but fringe subculture in the Muslim north, famed for their playful use of language, sometimes even accompanying politicians during election campaigns. …

But now, with a religious revival sweeping Africa’s most populous country, the yan daudu are increasingly being persecuted.

Nigeria’s Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act of 2014 provides for prison sentences of up to:

  • 14 years for entering into a same-sex marriage.
  • 10 years for attending a same-sex wedding.
  • 10 years for a “public show of same-sex amorous relationship.”
  • 10 years for belonging to any “gay organization,” whether it is seeking recognition of human rights for LGBT people, meeting the spiritual needs of LGBT people, or providing health care for LGBT people.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]


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