Dozens of Nigerians were arrested in the northern city of Zaria for “conspiring” to celebrate a same-sex wedding in a motel.

In all 53 people, mostly male students, were charged on Saturday with conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and “belonging to a gang of unlawful society.”

According to their defense lawyer, the suspects were detained for more than 24 hours, in violation of Nigerian law.

Homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria, and in 2014, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan pushed through the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which effectively banned marriage equality in Nigeria and criminalized public displays of affection by gay couples.

The act also imposes harsh penalties on any organizations advocating for LGBT rights or operating gay clubs. Violations can result in up to 14 years in prison.

Nonetheless some couples still conduct informal wedding ceremonies in secret.

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