Court adjourns trial of 47 men charged under Nigeria’s anti-homosexuality law


Nigerian prosecutors began presenting their evidence against the 47 men charged with public displays of affection with members of the same sex, but asked for an adjournment after calling one witness.

The trial in Lagos which has already been delayed for months is seen as a test case for a law that criminalises homosexuality in Nigeria.

Homophobia is rampant in many socially conservative African societies and same sex relationship is outlawed in a number of countries in the region where some religious groups brand it as a corrupting Western import.

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

Prosecution lawyer Ilyas Abdulrahman said their lead witness, the police inspector who led the raid in which the men were arrested, would appear again on Wednesday.

The 47 men were arrested in a police raid on a hotel in the Egbeda district of Lagos in August 2018. Police said they were being “initiated” into a gay club, but the accused said they were attending a birthday party.

Their 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. (Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation)