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Nigeria’s paramilitary raids birthday party, arrests 76 gay people

Seventy-six people were arrested for attending a birthday party for gay people in northern Nigeria, the country’s paramilitary agency said on Monday, adding that the organizer had also planned to hold a same sex wedding, which is illegal.

These are the latest arrests targeting LGBTQ Nigerians after police in August raided a gay wedding in the southern city of Warri in Delta state, and arrested dozens of people. The accused are out on bail.

In Nigeria, like in most parts of Africa, homosexuality is generally viewed as unacceptable, and a 2014 anti-gay law took effect despite international condemnation.

Buhari Saad, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) spokesperson for the largely Muslim Gombe state, said after receiving a tip off, the agency raided a party on Saturday night that was being attended by “homosexuals and pimps”.

He said 59 men had been arrested, including 21 who confessed to being homosexual, and 17 women.

The Gombe NSCDC said in a statement that the organizer of the birthday party had also planned to wed another man, who was still at large, before police raided the event.

The anti-gay law in Africa’s most populous nation includes a prison term of up to 14 years for those convicted, and bans gay marriage, same-sex relationships, and membership of gay rights groups.

The case was expected to be heard in the Gombe state High Court on Tuesday, Saad said.

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