Reports state that police in the Nigerian city of Asaba recently conducted a mass arrest of gays and lesbians at that city’s Delta Park Hotel. The raid is reported to have happened at or around 2 a.m. on June 11.

According to the news site NoStringsNG, the police appeared at a club inside the hotel. The gathering was a party.

The law officers entered the party, and proceeded to harass and beat attendees with extreme prejudice: “The witness said he was lucky to have escaped, but was able to see how the police were hitting the party-goers with their guns and hands.” According to NoStringsNG, the partygoers were arrested “on charges that they are gays and lesbians.”

After the police department was finished beating the partygoers, the arrests commenced. Reports say that practically everyone was taken into custody; this includes the management and the staff of the hotel. The collective group was then transported to a police station in Asaba, to be processed.

Human rights groups are outraged. Of the arrested persons, it is said that some of them have already given statements to the police. These people have been granted bail.

However, dozens and dozens of partygoers (and employees of the hotel) remain detained. According to sources, court proceedings may follow.

The status of LGBTQ persons is highly contested on the continent of Africa. Many African governments remain suspicious or outright opposed to gay men and women. Nigeria has some of the most pervasive and draconian anti-LGBTQ measures on the books.

According to the site MambaOnline, “These arrests come after the Nigerian state of Bemeu passed an anti-gay bill which would further criminalise LGBTQ people.”

According to NoStringsNG, the bill is called the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Law and “is similar to the country’s already existing national Same Sex Prohibition Act, which was enacted in 2014.”

The bill bans civil unions or marriage between same-sex individuals, disallows the formation of any LGBTQ organizations, and makes same-sex public displays of affection illegal.

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