A Nigerian court on Aug. 4 granted bail for up to 42 men and boys facing homosexuality charges after their arrest during an HIV awareness event last weekend, several news accounts say.
This blog is seeking specifics about how many of the arrestees have been released and how many remain in detention until they are able to pay the bail of 500,000 naira (about US $1,375). Here’s what we found: 30 Nigerians remain in custody on homosexuality charges.
“A Nigerian court on Thursday granted bail to the 42 men who were arrested during an HIV awareness event.”
The State government of Lagos has brought to the court Thursday, 40 people, including 12 minors, “accused” of homosexuality, regarded as a criminal offence punishable by 14 years in prison in Nigeria.
Twenty-eight adults, all male, were present before the court of Justice of Lagos, after a police custody of four days. They are accused “of having committed homosexual acts and encouraging of men to meet in the perpetration of the facts against the order of nature”. …
For their part, the minors appeared … before another Court, without any details being revealed to the press.
All the accused have pleaded not guilty, and are now released on bail (500,000 naira, or 1150 euros) pending trial.
Police on July 29 raided the Vincent Hotel in Weigh Bridge in Owode Onirin, Ikorodu, where the men were arrested for allegedly performing same-sex sexual acts. Gay rights activist Bisi Alimi told the BBC the event was designed to promote HIV testing and counseling among Nigeria’s LGBT community.
The Lagos State government on Thursday tweeted pictures of some of the men with a caption “28 adults being arraigned for engaging in homosexuality before the Yaba Magistrate Court by Lagos State Government today, August 3, 2017.” Rev. Jide Macaulay, a gay rights activist, on Facebook confirmed their release.
“Nigeria: All 42 alleged LGBT arrested released by court on bail. Thanks & well done to all the activists on the frontline,” he wrote.
Nigeria is among the countries with stringent anti-gay laws.
In 2014, the Nigerian Senate made homosexuality illegal when it passed the “Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill.” The law allows up to a 14-year jail term for those entering into same-sex marriages or relationships; those witnessing, aiding or abetting LGBT-related activities and the public display of same-sex relationships.
Last Saturday, 42 people were arrested in a hotel in Owode-Onirin, a poor neighborhood, and disreputable in the extreme north of Lagos, after a police raid.
“According to residents of the area, some of them were known for their homosexuality,” said Olarinde Famous-Cole, spokesman of police for Lagos State to justify the mass arrest.
According to a source … contacted by AFP, dozens of young people had gathered for a party held in the lobby of a hotel, where an association was also advice on the risk of HIV.
The [heterosexual brother of] one of the participants triggered a violent brawl, which attracted the attention of the police. Officers arrested about 70 people, but a large number of them were able to escape by paying bribes.
(This article was revised on Aug. 6 to incorporate an acknowledgment of the uncertainty about how many of the arrested men have been released on bail.)
- Nigerian activists: Don’t assume 42 arrested men are gay (Aug. 3, 2017, 76crimes.com)
- International appeals seek release of 42 in Nigeria (Aug. 2, 2017, 76crimes.com)
- #OwodeArrest: 42 alleged gay men are still in police custody. Court arraignment still under probability (Aug. 1, 2017, The Rustin Times)
- Mass arrest of 40 gay men in Nigeria may harm HIV fight (July 31, 2017, Reuters)
- #OwodeArrest: How 70 alleged gay men were arrested in Lagos (July 30, 2017, The Rustin Times)
- Police arrest 42 homosexuals in Lagos hotel (July 30, 2017, Punch)