Police Must Respect The Rights Of Alleged Gay Wedding Attendees In Delta State
A trending online video in various online media and news outlets have reported that the Delta State Police Command has arrested over one hundred young persons allegedly involved in a planned gay wedding.
It is important for the Nigeria Police to act professionally and realise that as citizens of Nigeria, those young people are entitled to their fundamental human rights to be treated with dignity and respect no matter the allegations levelled against them. This is also based on the foundation that at all times, they are presumed innocent until found guilty.
Whereas a thorough investigation is yet to be concluded by the police and the rights of the victims to legal defence has not been fully activated or exhausted, it is blatantly wrong to parade in public, these young persons said to be involved in an anti-social behaviour in such an undignifying manner just to cater to media sensationalism and the news appetite of a largely Nigerian public that is culturally and religiously biased, in in hatred against the notion of Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender (LGBT) persons.
What is of utmost importance is the realisation that the young persons involved are firstly human beings and are citizens of Nigeria who must not only be accorded human dignity but whose right to freedom of thought and expression be respected.
Whereas, it is a guiding principle among a large section of human rights practitioners in Nigeria not to promote LGBT forms of sexual orientation in the light of the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act of 2015 together with the staunch condemnation by the religious public, there has always been the call by the Nigerian human rights practitioners that LGBT persons be treated with compassion. And where necessary be given help, counseling and understanding to enable them respect the sexual values of the Nigerian society.
Consequently, it must be noted that however reprehensible a behaviour may appear to the Nigerian public, it can only punishable if it is defined by a written law.
Therefore, if all what those young people who have been arrested in Delta State have done, was to carry out cross-dressing for the purposes of entertainment and identity fashion, then they have not committed any offence and should be immediately released from police detention.
If however the the Nigerian Police finds them culpable in any way, then they must be allowed access to legal representation and granted bail or immediately charged to court. The Nigeria Police must immediately desist from the unprofessional conduct of punishing them with opprobrium by parading them in the media before they are either charged to court or released on bail.
Human Rights Lawyer & Executive Director
Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER),