69 Nigerian citizens have been released on bail after serving a month in jail for alleging having connections to and/or attending an alleged gay wedding.
Like many other African countries, homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria and can even be punishable by death. Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, signed a bill in 2014 implementing anti-gay laws, despite international pushback.
On Tuesday (Sept. 19), a court in Delta state, Nigeria, ruled that the incarcerated individuals, mixed of women and men, would be freed on a bail of 500,000 naira ($645 USD) paid to the court, Reuters reports.
“They are to provide sureties, who will submit their particulars to the court. So, the 69 suspects have been granted bail and I am processing their paperwork,” the suspects’ lawyer, Ochuko Ohimor stated. Per outlet, prosecutors in Yenagoa, Nigeria, opposed bail but the court overruled, concluding that the detainees were not facing a capital offense.
The anti-gay law in Nigeria includes a prison term of up to 14 years for those convicted, as it bans gay marriage, same-sex relationships, and membership of gay rights groups.
Late last month, an Ugandan man was the first to be arrested and prosecuted for allegedly committing “aggravated homosexuality” in the country. Uganda passed it’s Anti-Homosexuality Act in March of this year.
The defendant was charged on Aug. 18 after he “performed unlawful sexual intercourse” with a 41-year-old man, Reuters reported. In Uganda, the death penalty can be applied to cases that are deemed “aggravated,” which is defined as “repeated offenses, gay-sex that transmits terminal illness, or same-sex intercourse with a minor, an elderly person, or a person with disabilities.”
The outlet did not specify why the act was considered aggravated in the defendant’s situation. However, the law’s enactment back in March drew widespread critique, protests, and disapproval — including a statement from U.S. President Biden, who ordered a review of U.S. aid to Uganda.
“The enactment of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act is a tragic violation of universal human rights — one that is not worthy of the Ugandan people, and one that jeopardizes the prospects of critical economic growth for the entire country,” he declared. “I join with people around the world — including many in Uganda — in calling for its immediate repeal. No one should have to live in constant fear for their life or being subjected to violence and discrimination. It is wrong.”
In addition, Biden called the anti-homosexuality bill a “shameful act” as he also advised the National Security Council to “evaluate the implications of the law on all aspects of U.S. engagement with Uganda.” This includes the ability to safely deliver services under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and other different forms of help and investments.
“Uganda is among 32 nations in Africa that ban same-sex relationships,” according to ILGA World data. “Punishments range from imprisonment to the death penalty.”
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