The Access to Health and Rights Development Initiative has demanded the release of the 40 people charged for alleged homosexual activity by the Lagos State government.
In a statement, the group said it was calling the international community to raise the issue with their governments as a matter of urgency, especially the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
“We are also raising the fact that the conditions for bail are not just unreasonable but they violate the fundamental human rights of the accused.”
The statement had the support of other groups like the Bisi Alimi Foundation (BAF), the Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERS), Queer Alliance (QA), and the International Centre for Advocacy to Health And Rights (ICARH).
Last week, more than 40 men were arrested by the police for alleged homosexual activities at Vintage Hotel in Owode-Onirin, a Lagos suburb.
On Thursday, the Lagos State Government arraigned 28 adults and 12 minors before a Magistrate Court for allegedly engaging in homosexuality. While the minors were arraigned before Ebute-Metta Magistrate Court, the adults were arraigned before Yaba Magistrate Court.
They all pleaded not guilty to the one-count charge of “engaging in gay activities by permitting male persons to have canal knowledge of themselves against the order of nature and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 261 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.”
The defendants were each granted bail in the sum of N500,000 and two sureties in like sum.
On Friday, the owner of Vintage Hotel, Patrick Okeze, was arraigned before a Yaba Magistrate Court for allegedly aiding and promoting same sex sexual activities and gay club in his hotel.
Mr. Okeze was arraigned alongside two of his workers, Sunday Isang and Bright Oba, for allegedly encouraging the illegal act to be perpetrated by young men and minors in the hotel contrary to the provisions of Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act of 2014.
In their statement on Friday, the groups insisted that the men charged for homosexual activities were attending an event were HIV Counselling and Testing services were being rendered.
“We are working hard to ensure the release of the boys and also to help them assimilate back into society after the ordeal is done,” the statement said.
“While the official press release from the Lagos state government state that there were minors involved, organisers had no means to verify ages and the event was an 18+ event and not for minors.
“The party was not a sex party. Efforts are currently being made towards securing and perfecting bail for the men. We also would want to express our appreciation to all activists working tirelessly to see the release of the 42 currently in police custody.”
The groups have also put up an online petition calling on the government to have a rethink on the stand of the law about homosexual activities.