Police in Nigeria said Tuesday they detained at least 67 people celebrating a gay wedding, in one of the country’s largest arrests targeting outlawed homosexuality.
The “gay suspects” were arrested in southern Delta state’s Ekpan town at about 2am (01:00 GMT) on Monday at an event where two of them were wedded, state police spokesman Bright Edafe told reporters. He added that homosexuality “will never be tolerated” in the West African nation.
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The Nigerian law banning gay marriage, punishable by up to 14 years in prison, and same-sex “amorous relationships”, prompted an international outcry when it came into force under former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014.
But the law is also supported by many in what remains a conservative country. More than 30 African countries already ban same-sex relationships and arrests of gay people are common in Nigeria.
Police in Delta stormed a hotel in Ekpan where the gay wedding was being held and initially arrested 200 people, Edafe told reporters. Later, 67 of them were detained after initial investigations, he said.
He spoke at a police station where the suspects were being paraded.
“The amazing part of it was that we saw two suspects, and there is a video recording where they were performing their wedding ceremony,” he said. “We are in Africa and we are in Nigeria. We cannot copy the Western world because we don’t have the same culture.”
He reiterated that police officers in Nigeria “cannot fold their hands” and watch gay people openly express their orientation in the country.
“This is not something that will be allowed in Nigeria,” he said, adding that the suspects will be charged in court at the end of the investigation.