Light Wave


Police target LGBTQ community again with mass arrests in Nigeria

By Jake Beardslee · October 24, 2023

In brief…

  • 76 people arrested at birthday party in northern Nigeria for suspected homosexuality
  • Raid uncovered party suspected of being pretext for illegal same-sex wedding
  • Arrests follow 2014 Nigerian law criminalizing homosexuality with prison terms
  • Crackdown latest in ongoing discrimination against LGBTQ community in Nigeria
Authorities in northern Nigeria arrested 76 people attending a birthday party on suspicions it was a gathering for homosexuals, which is illegal under a 2014 law banning same-sex relationships.  AMISOM Public Information/Wikimedia

Authorities in Nigeria arrested 76 people for attending a birthday party that was suspected of being a gathering for homosexual individuals, according to a statement released Monday by the country’s paramilitary agency. The party was raided on Saturday night in Gombe, a state in northern Nigeria.

Officials said they received a tip about the party and allege the organizer was planning to hold a same-sex wedding there, which is illegal under Nigerian law. The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) said 59 men were detained, with 21 confessing to being homosexual. An additional 17 women were also arrested.

The NSCDC spokesperson Buhari Saad said the raid uncovered “homosexuals and pimps” at the event. The suspected organizer remains at large.

Homosexuality is broadly unacceptable in Nigeria and much of Africa. A 2014 Nigerian law criminalized same-sex relationships and gay organizations, punishable with up to 14 years in prison. The legislation was condemned by other nations but took effect regardless.

The arrests over the weekend follow a similar crackdown in August, when police in southern Nigeria raided a suspected gay wedding, detaining dozens. Those suspects were eventually released on bail, according to their lawyer.

Rights groups have expressed concern over worsening discrimination and violence against LGBTQ individuals in Nigeria in recent years. However, authorities maintain they are simply enforcing the law. The case for those detained at the birthday party is expected to be heard in a Gombe state court on Tuesday.