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They were held in police custody for four days, and released, without charge, after paying bribes ranging from 10,000-25,000 Naira (approximately US-64).

These individuals said they had never been subjected to questioning, arrest, or detention prior to the enactment of this law.

-Executive Director of an Abuja NGO, October 2015 Vigilante groups have added homosexuality to their “terms of reference.” These groups are organized by community members, given authorization by the community to maintain some sort of order and “security.” -Executive Director of a Minna, Niger State NGO, October 2015 On January 7, 2014, Nigeria’s former president, Goodluck Jonathan, signed the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill (SSMPA) into law.

The notional purpose of the SSMPA is to prohibit marriage between persons of the same sex. The law forbids any cohabitation between same-sex sexual partners and bans any “public show of same sex amorous relationship.” The SSMPA imposes a 10-year prison sentence on anyone who “registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organization” or “supports” the activities of such organizations.

The heated public debate and heightened media interest in the law have made homosexuality more visible and LGBT people even more vulnerable than they already were.

Many LGBT individuals interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that prior to the enactment of the SSMPA in January 2014, the general public objected to homosexuality primarily on the basis of religious beliefs and perceptions of what constitutes African culture and tradition.

The law has become a tool being used by some police officers and members of the public to legitimize multiple human rights violations perpetrated against LGBT people.

Such violations include torture, sexual violence, arbitrary detention, violations of due process rights, and extortion.

Lesbian and bisexual women in particular reported that fear of being perceived as “guilty by association” led them to avoid associating with other LGBT community members, increasing their isolation and, in some cases, eventually compelling them to marry an opposite-sex partner, have children, and conform to socially proscribed gender norms.

Lesbians and gay men interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that the law has had an insidious effect on individual self-expression.

Since January 2014, several said that they had adopted self-censoring behavior by significantly and consciously altering their gender presentation to avoid detection or suspicion by members of the public and to avoid arrest and extortion.

The SSMPA contributes significantly to a climate of impunity for crimes committed against LGBT people, including physical and sexual violence.

LGBT victims of crime said the law inhibited them from reporting to authorities due to fear of exposure and arrest.