anti-gay laws
Nigerian authorities are trying 47 men arrested in 2018 under the country’s anti-gay laws which ban gay marriage and same-sex “amorous relationships”. Photo by Joshua Mcknight from Pexels

Nigerian authorities arrested 47 men in a Lagos hotel and charged them for practicing homosexuality, which is outlawed in the West African country.

The men were among 57 others arrested by police in a raid on a hotel in Lagos in 2018. They are accused of showing public displays of affection with members of the same sex, an offense that carries a 10-year jail term according to anti-gay laws in Nigeria.

The men pleaded innocent at a hearing in November 2019.

Their arrest and the charges against them came five years after Nigeria passed a law banning gay marriage and same-sex “amorous relationships”.

“People have been detained, men and women, at different gatherings but no cases had ever gone before a judge. We have to establish that people have a right to meet that shouldn’t be a crime under any law in any country,” Xeenarh Mohammed, the executive director of the Lagos-based Initiative for Equal Rights, told The Guardian.

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As in many conservative African societies, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people face significant legal and societal discrimination and violence in Nigeria.

In northern states, where Sharia Laws or Islamic laws are enforced, individuals convicted of homosexual offenses could get a death sentence, according to Human Rights Watch.