Sharia police, hisbah, arrest 12 over gay wedding in Kano

Hisbah team on patrol in Kano
Hisbah team on patrol in Kano
Hisbah team on patrol in Kano

The Sharia police (Hisbah) in Kano arrested 12 men accusing them of attempting gay marriage, though 10 were later released, a spokesman for the board overseeing Islamic rules in the area said on Tuesday.

Gay marriage, same-sex relationships and membership of gay rights groups were banned in January 2014 by President Goodluck Jonathan despite Western pressures over gay rights and threats of aid cuts to those passing laws that persecute homosexuals.

Nigeria’s population is roughly split between predominantly Christians in the south and Muslims in the north. As in much of sub-Saharan Africa, anti-gay sentiment extends across the religious divide.

The suspects, most of them teenagers, were detained on Monday at a popular resort on the outskirts of the city, said the head of the Hisbah, Aminu Daurawa.

“We have 12 men in custody, including the bride. We arrested them at the venue of a planned gay wedding,” Daurawa told AFP.

“We got information of the wedding four days earlier and our men stormed the venue while the wedding was about to start.”

Many guests escaped during the raid, he added.

But one of the participants, 18-year-old Faruk Maiduguri, told reporters at the Hisbah offices that he and his friends were only celebrating his birthday.

“It was my birthday ‎party, not a gay wedding,” he said in tears.

Daurawa said the suspects, who came from Kano, the northern cities of Maiduguri, Kaduna and Bauchi, and Ibadan and Osogbo in the southwest, “looked and acted feminine”, which prompted their arrest.

“It is still an allegation but when we screened them, they really looked gay, and the way they behaved was gay,” a spokesman for the Sharia Law Group, Mohammed Yusuf Yola, added.

Ten out of the 12 suspects were later released after their parents signed a statement saying they would keep their children away from such activities, Yola said, but would be handed over to the police for prosecution if they were caught again.

Nigeria’s anti-gay laws provide for sentences of up to 14 years in prison.