Nigerian court sends dozens to jail for alleged gay marriage

YENAGOA, Nigeria (Reuters) – More than 60 people arrested in Nigeria last week in connection with an alleged gay marriage, which is illegal in the country, have been remanded in custody, police and their lawyer said on Monday.

The court granted a pre-trial detention request by police after a hearing Monday in the southern Delta city of Warri, during which the suspects were arrested after a lead.

“The suspects were arraigned in court today and the judge has ruled that they remain in custody for two weeks,” Delta State Police said in a statement. It didn’t say how many were remanded in custody, but police said last week that 67 people had been arrested.

In Nigeria, as in most parts of Africa, homosexuality is generally considered unacceptable, and despite international condemnation, an anti-gay law passed in 2014.

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Defense attorney Ochuko Ohimor, representing 60 suspects, said while the next hearing will be on September 18, he is working to secure bail for the suspects.

He put the total number of people in custody at 69, adding that they face charges of having celebrated a gay marriage.

“All we’re doing now is filing bail requests on her behalf… if it proves meritable, it (the court) can grant her bail. The request for bail can be made before the end of the 14-day pre-trial detention.” he said.

The anti-gay law in Africa’s most populous country carries a prison sentence of up to 14 years for convicts and bans same-sex marriage, same-sex relationships and membership of gay rights groups.

(Reporting by Tife Owolabi; Text by Elisha Bala-Gbogbo, Editing by William Maclean)

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