Police in Lagos arrested 42 men over the weekend for alleged acts of homosexuality.
Authorities raided Victoria Hotel in Owode Onirin on Saturday, cordoning off the hotel while their investigation continues. The suspects “are in custody of the Lagos State Task Force and will be charged to court soon,” according to a police spokesperson.
A local told Punch newspaper that the hotel had a reputation for harboring homosexuals. “They were there this afternoon when policemen struck. About 40 of them were caught in the act.”
Nigeria is one of 72 countries worldwide where homosexual acts are illegal: In the predominantly Christian south, offenders can face up to 14 years in prison. The maximum punishment in the 12 northern states which have adopted sharia law is death by stoning.
Nationwide, the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act of 2011 criminalizes entering into a same-sex union or joining an LGBT-rights organization. In April, more than 50 people were arrested for attending what authorities claimed was a gay wedding in Zaria.
Officials and religious leaders routinely use LGBT people as scapegoats, examples of failing morality and the influence of foreign ideology.
“Our youths are now publicly clamoring for the legalization of gay marriage,” government communications director Garba Abari complained in June, “and are about to boldly take the campaign to the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly to press for it as a fundamental human right.”
At the same time, when Senator Buka Ibrahim was recently caught in a motel room with two women, he was been able to argue that the video was an invasion of his privacy and his conduct is no one’s business but his own. (Ibrahim already has three wives.)
“Lesbian, gay and bisexual Nigerians are legislated against, and outlawed for the same activity that straight Nigerians engage in,” wrote Olumide Makanjuola in The Guardian. “There is a clear double standard amongst the supposed morally right majority.”