For the 1st time, Nigeria is prosecuting men for being gay

Nigeria's anti-gay law gets tested in court for the first time.

A gay Nigerian protesting abroad (AFP)

It is the first time the state will be trying allegedly gay suspects since Nigeria criminalised same sex relationships in 2014.

Reuters reports that the men were arrested during a police raid on a hotel in the Egbeda area of Lagos in August 2018.

According to the police, the men were being “initiated” into a gay club when they were arrested. However, the accused said they were only attending a birthday party when they were arrested.

The trial in Lagos, Nigeria's most populous city, is seen as a test case for a law that criminalises homosexuality.

Homosexuality is outlawed in many socially conservative or religious African societies and regarded as a corrupting Western import.

Last week, the prosecution called police Inspector Ade Adegboye, who said he knew three of the defendants from his “anti-cultism” work.

Adegboye declined to answer questions from the defence and said nothing regarding the charges against the men, who face up to 10 years in jail if convicted.

The case is seen as a test for a Nigerian law that bans gay marriage, punishable by a 14-year jail term, and same-sex “amorous relationships”.

The law caused an international outcry when it came into force in 2014. Nobody has yet been convicted under the law, prosecution and defence lawyers in the case have previously told Reuters.

The trial was previously adjourned twice without opening remarks because the prosecution did not bring its witnesses to court.

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