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Nigeria charges 53 with 'unlawful assembly' for celebrating LGBTQ wedding

[JURIST] Nigerian prosecutors in Kaduna on Wednesday charged 53 men for celebrating an LGBTQ wedding in violation of the state's law against 'unlawful assembly' and the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act [text]. The men were arrested last Saturday, and were released on bail after sentencing. The defendants claim they were at a birthday party, not a wedding, and various human rights groups have come out in their defense. Maria Sjodin, deputy executive director of LGBTQ advocacy group OutRight Action International [official website] said [NBC report] she believes the wedding story is an excuse for Nigerian police to "crackdown on an emerging LGBTQ movement," adding that "the police are using the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act as an excuse for mass arrests, maybe even as a way to get bribes." The men have pled not guilty.

LGBTQ rights have become controversial in recent years. Earlier this week, Human Rights Watch and other advocacy groups urged [JURIST report] UN Secretary General to investigate alleged abuse against LGBT people in Chechnya. According to the open letter about 100 gay and bisexual men have been detained, went missing, were tortured, or were murdered under the authority of Chechen officials. Last week, the US Department of Justice dropped [JURIST report] a federal lawsuit against the state of North Carolina over a bill requiring transgender people to use the public bathroom associated with their birth gender. Earlier in the month, the Nebraska Supreme Court upheld [JURIST report] a lower court decision overruling the state of Nebraska's long-time ban on same sex partner foster parenting.

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