Eleven young women were arrested in the northern Nigerian city of Kano for allegedly planning a lesbian wedding, the Islamic law-enforcement agency, the Hisbah, told AFP Thursday.
The suspects were arrested on Monday by a team of Hisbah personnel while making last minute preparations for the wedding following a tip-off, Hisbah’s Director-General Abba Sufi said.
“Our men got wind of the wedding and stormed the venue where they arrested 11 young women, including the bride and the groom,” Sufi said. “As soon as investigation is concluded they will be charged. “We can’t allow such despicable acts to find roots in our society.
Both Islam and Nigerian laws prohibit same sex relationships,” Sufi said. The suspects, who said they belonged to a dance club, denied the allegation, saying they organised the party to celebrate the appointment of one of them as the club’s deputy head, according to Hisbah sources.
This was the second arrest of its kind by the Hisbah in the city. In 2007 five women were arrested by the Hisbah for allegedly conducting a lesbian wedding at an arts theatre. One of the women was accused of marrying her four lovers, a charge they denied, insisting they organised a party for in honour of two friends who were getting married.
In January 2015 the Hisbah also arrested 12 young men at a popular resort on the outskirts of the city of Kano for allegedly planning a gay wedding. The suspects insisted they gathered for a friend’s birthday party. In 12 northern states, where Sharia runs parallel to the state and federal justice system, homosexuality is punishable by death, although the sentence has never been enforced.
In 2014 Nigeria passed new legislation outlawing same-sex marriages and the promotion of civil unions. Nigeria’s Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act carries penalties of up to 14 years in jail for anyone confirmed to be in a gay union.