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Nigerian Police threaten crackdown over viral LGBT TikTok trend

Nigerian Police Public Relations Officer Olumuyiwa Adejobi.

Nigerian Police Public Relations Officer Olumuyiwa Adejobi.

By NoStringsNG Contributor

Nigerian police spokesperson ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi has vowed to crack down on a group of LGBT individuals featured in a viral video on social media.

The threats were issued against participants in the queer edition of the trending TikTok “I am” challenge, where some LGBTIQ+ Nigerians disclosed their sexuality and gender identity on the social media app.

In a statement addressing the video on X, Adejobi condemned the participants, referring to them as “criminals” participating in “unnatural offences.”

Screenshot of the Adejobi’s posts on X response.

The Nigeria Police Director of News issued a statement declaring that arrest orders had been issued for the individuals identified in the video. The statement purported to clarify and explain various sections of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act and the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, implying that identifying as LGBT was an offence under the law, and urging Nigerians to report any suspected LGBTIQ+ individuals and related activities to the police.

The statement has drawn criticism from LGBT activists and others, who have said it displays misplaced priorities and ignorance regarding the provisions of the Criminal Code and Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act (SSMPA). In fact, the Criminal Code only criminalizes having “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” or committing “an act of gross indecency with another male person,” while the SSMPA only prohibits participating in a same-sex marriage. Identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans is not illegal in itself.

It’s unclear what specific crime the police are charging the video participants with. The police response illustrates the persecution LGBT individuals continue to face in Nigeria simply for being themselves.

Source: African Human Rights Media Network member NoStringsNG.