Black LGBTQ lawmakers from D.C. and Maryland gathered with activists in front of the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, D.C. to voice their condemnation of the recent arrest of over 200 people at a same-sex wedding in Delta State.
The group called for the immediate release of the detainees and expressed concern over the continued criminalization of LGBTQ people in Nigeria.
This follows an incident in August where police raided a hotel in Warri, Delta State, and arrested dozens of people who were attending a same-sex wedding.
"What we saw with the recent arrest and detention is not just a violation of people’s rights with this unjust arrest, but the parading of LGBTQIA+ folks before the media as if Nigerian law enforcement officials have actually accomplished some sort of a public safety measure,” said Maryland state Del. Gabriel Acevero (D-Montgomery County), who is the first openly gay man of Afro-Latino descent elected to the Maryland General Assembly.
“Let’s be clear: LGBTQIA+ folks, queer Nigerians are not a threat to Nigerian identity or national security, but Boko Haram is," he added.
National Black Justice Coalition Public Policy and Programs Director Victoria Kirby York noted she is of Nigerian descent and said she has “not gone to Nigeria because I am frightened as a Black openly lesbian person that I may find myself detained.”
“We are here today to demand that Nigeria releases these detainees and drop the charges,” said York.
"We are here today because we have heavy hearts addressing a pressing issue that demands our immediate attention,” said Martinez, who is also Afro-Latino and the first openly gay man to represent Prince George’s County in the House of Delegates.
“Nigeria, a nation with immense potential and cultural richness is currently taking a stance to contradicts the principles of equality and human rights."
“We’re here to protest Nigeria’s anti LGBTQ policy, and urge for change,” added the Prince George’s County Democrat.
“We’re here to demand that Nigeria release all the detainees and drop all the charges because in a world that is increasingly recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion, Nigeria discriminatory laws against the LGBT community remain a stain on his reputation. These laws not only perpetuate prejudice, but also infringe upon the fundamental human rights of countless individuals,"