A trial is under way in Nigeria for 47 men accused of making a “public show of same-sex amorous relationships,” which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
The men were among 57 arrested in an anti-gay raid in August 2018 at a hotel in Lagos, Nigeria
At the time of the raid, police said the men were being “initiated” into a gay club. The men disagreed, saying that they were merely attending a birthday party. They have all pleaded not guilty.
After months of delays, Nigerian prosecutors began presenting their evidence against 47 men charged with public displays of affection with members of the same sex, but asked for an adjournment after calling one witness.
Prosecution lawyer Ilyas Abdulrahman said their lead witness, the police inspector who led the raid in which the men were arrested, would appear on Wednesday.
The trial in Lagos is seen as a test case for a law that criminalizes homosexuality, which is outlawed in many socially conservative African societies where some religious groups brand it a corrupting Western import.
On Tuesday the prosecution called police Inspector Ade Adegboye, who said he knew three of the defendants from his “anti-cultism” work. He declined to answer questions from the defense and said nothing regarding the charges against the men, who face up to 10 years in jail if convicted.
The men were [the only ones charged from among 57 men] arrested in a police raid on a hotel in the Egbeda district of Lagos in August 2018. Police said they were being “initiated” into a gay club, but the accused said they were attending a birthday party.
Their case is seen as a test for a Nigerian law that bans gay marriage, punishable by a 14-year jail term, and same-sex “amorous relationships”.
The law caused an international outcry when it came into force in 2014. Nobody has yet been convicted under the law, prosecution and defense lawyers in the case have previously told Reuters.
The trial was previously adjourned twice without opening remarks because the prosecution did not bring its witnesses to court.
- These 47 men could get 10 years for public displays of affection (November 2019, 76crimes.com)
- Nigeria: ‘Preposterous’ rationale for 57 gay arrests (August 2018, 76crimes.com)
- Nigeria: Police arrest over 100 alleged gays and lesbians (June 2018, 76crimes.com
- Report: Muslim police arrest 70 Nigerian youths for ‘gay’ party September 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Fear-mongering inflicts new abuses on 40 Nigerians (August 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Defending gays in Nigeria: ‘dangerous, risky, stigmatizing’ (August 2017, 76crimes.com)
- 30 Nigerians remain in custody on homosexuality charges (August 2017, 76crimes.com)
- International appeals seek release of 42 in Nigeria (August 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Mass arrest of 40 gay men in Nigeria may harm HIV fight (July 31, 2017, Reuters)
- 53 arrests in Nigeria for alleged same-sex wedding (April 2017, 76crimes.com)