Nigerian authorities are using a 2014 anti-LGBTQIA+ law that bans same-sex weddings to raid parties and publicly parade those arrested as a form of deterrence, said prominent Lagos lawyer Chizelu Emejulu who has represented many of those detained.
Two mass arrests in the past three months go beyond the scope of the law and directly contravene the right of assembly, guaranteed by the constitution, said Emejulu.
Police arrested 76 partygoers in the northern Nigerian state of Gombe in October, while in August, 69 people were detained in the south in Delta state on suspicion of attending a same-sex wedding. “State actors like the (police) will always justify their infringements on the rights of LGBTQI persons through these mass arrests on the grounds that those arrested are conducting same-sex marriages,” Emejulu told Openly in an interview.
Merely attending a birthday party, or any party, does not mean those present were there to celebrate a wedding, he said. Emejulu has been one of the most prominent legal advocates for LGBTQ+IA Nigerians since 2018 and has represented defendants in several mass arrest cases.