When Ayo answered a knock at his door one evening last month, four Nigerian secret service officers barged in and found gay pornography on one of the phones and laptops he and six friends had in the apartment.
The officers announced they were taking everyone to jail for being gay. Ayo, 27, and four of his friends gained their freedom by bribing the police the equivalent of $600. Two others had no cash and spent three nights in detention.
Ayo, who’s gay, is sure they’ll be back. “I don’t want to be used as business for whenever police need money,” he said in the southern city of Ibadan, speaking on the condition that his full name wasn’t used for fear of further harassment. Oyo state police spokeswoman Olabisi Ilobanafor said no arrests were made.
While gay sex has been illegal in Nigeria since before its independence from the U.K. in 1960, President Goodluck Jonathan signed a law last month that bans gay groups, imposes a 14-year jail sentence for same-sex couples who live together and 10 years for people who make a “public show of same-sex amorous relationships.”