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53 Nigerians Arrested for Attending Gay Wedding

Rebecca Blackwell
Rebecca Blackwell/AP

Under the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition act, attendees at gay weddings face up to a decade in prison.

It's bad enough that parts of the world--and even parts of our country--insist that same-sex marriage should be illegal. But Nigeria takes it several steps further, criminalizing even the people in attendance at same-sex wedding ceremonies.

According to Nigeria's Premium Times, 53 people were arrested in the northern state of Kaduna on April 15 and charged with conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and belonging to an unlawful society. A police prosecutor said the accused "conspired to celebrate a gay marriage," and that the two men who were married were fleeing from the law.

Bisi Alimi, a Nigerian LGBTQ activist based in the U.K., told Newsweek the men who were arrested weren't at a wedding, but an Easter party. "This incident is a reflection of the absurdity of the Same Sex Prohibition Act," Alimi said. "We know that people can be blackmailed for it and unfortunately it's now the state that is using it to blackmail people."

The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, instated in 2014 by former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, criminalizes same-sex marriage, and the registration of "gay clubs, societies and organizations," and also bans public displays of affection between same-sex couples.

Under the SSMPA all 53 "conspirators" face up to 10 years in prison. The case has been adjourned until May 8.

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