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Laws in Nigeria continue to be a threat to LGBTQ+ people. (Stefan Heunis/AFP via Getty Images)
Police in Nigeria have urged users of a gay dating app who may have been scammed to come forward – but has so far refused to give victims amnesty from anti-gay laws.
Six people were arrested in Nigeria on 31 July for allegedly extorting money from gay people they found on a dating app, the BBC reported. The name of the app has not been released as police continue to investigate.
Police were alerted when a victim reported people threatening to post his nude photos on social media unless he paid them off.
The blackmailers were identified and detained in a sting operation. They confessed to the sting, confirming they had already done the same thing to eight others.
Reportedly, the gang lured people on dates and then held them hostage until they were paid. The assailants said they would beat victims until they gave up the PIN codes to their bank accounts.
“Their bank account is then wiped out before they are let go,” police spokesperson Ramhan Nansel told the BBC.
Police have found a total of almost $3,260 (£2,700) has been taken from eight people, and officers believe there may be more victims who have not yet come forward.
While the police continue investigating the case it is not clear yet whether the victims will be prosecuted under anti-LGBTQ+ laws.
In Nigeria, under the Criminal Code Act and the Same Sex Marriage Act 2013, same-sex relations and LGBTQ+ advocacy are banned.
People can face up to 14 years in prison if they are caught in a same-sex relationship. And in some parts of Nigeria that are ruled by Sharia law, people can be sentenced to death by stoning.
Nansel told the BBC the police commissioner will decide whether victims will be prosecuted. So far, no amnesty has been confirmed.
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It comes after a Sharia court in Nigeria sentenced three men in the northern state of Bauchi to death by stoning for being gay.
LGBTQ+ groups have voiced their fear this could set a precedent in the country.
William Rashidi, director of Equality Triangle, told Reuters the sentencing could lead to more “violence” against queer people in Nigeria.
Rashidi said: “This sentencing opens the door for more draconian judgments against LGBTQ persons. It’s a call for violence.”
Crimes targeting gay men using dating apps have become a common occurrence across the continent. In South Africa, authorities warned gay men using Grindr to be careful as criminals were using the app to find targets and blackmail them.
More: Nigeria
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