Bobrisky saga: What Nigerian law says about cross-dressing

 Bobrisky saga: What Nigerian law says about cross-dressing

The Nigerian Police have addressed the issue of why crossdressers cannot be arrested in the country. 

Speaking on Channels TV, police spokesperson Olumuyiwa Adejobi explained that it is a complicated situation because cross-dressing is not currently a criminal offense in Nigeria. 

He clarified that despite allegations linking cross-dressers to the LGBTQ community, there’s insufficient evidence to support such claims, making it difficult to take legal action against them.

“There are some cases that are always very difficult to prove. I’m not ruling out that we have many of them. Let us be reasonable, you can’t have someone you want to prosecute without having credible evidence against them. I have not read anywhere where crossdressing is an offence in Nigeria.

“Some of them that are into crossdressing, the allegation is that they are into something else. That’s where the problem lies. We need to have enough proof, credible evidence to prove that they are actually into that. All those offences are natural offences in Nigeria and they are punishable under our laws”.

What does Nigerian law say about cross-dressing?

The ICIR reported that Blessing Ibe, a lawyer, said that Nigeria lacks a specific law addressing cross-dressing, but there are regulations against same-sex activities. She noted that while the Constitution upholds human freedoms, certain regions in Nigeria restrict public displays of same-sex affection and gender nonconformity.

Emphasizing the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act of 2013, Ibe explained its penalties for same-sex unions and affection, punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Another lawyer, Favour Chigozie, concurred, stating that although cross-dressing isn’t explicitly illegal, societal norms may lead to arrests for public disturbances.

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However, in 2022, the National Assembly proposed amending the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act to criminalize cross-dressing, suggesting imprisonment or fines for offenders. However, the bill failed during the House of Representatives’ second reading due to constitutional concerns and disregarding Nigeria’s cultural diversity.

Despite the absence of a specific law against cross-dressing, some Nigerians, including celebrities like Amusan, oppose awarding cross-dressers as “Best Dressed Female.” Amusan suggested creating a separate category for cross-dressers to avoid disrespecting women.

“There is no federal law in Nigeria that specifically addresses cross-dressing because of the enshrinement of the freedoms awarded humans in the Constitution.

“However, regulations prohibiting public demonstrations of same-sex affection and gender nonconformity exist in several areas of Nigeria, which may have an impact on people who cross-dress”, she stated.

Also, another lawyer, Favour Chigozie, also collaborated on what Ibe says, “Under Nigerian law, cross-dressing is not explicitly illegal, but it can be subject to societal and cultural norms that may frown upon it. Cross-dressing is not regulated but the police can arrest you for public disturbance or nuisance.”

The bill suggested a punishment of six months imprisonment or a fine of N500,000 for anyone found guilty.

However, the bill failed to pass the second reading in the House of Representatives following arguments that the bill was unconstitutional and did not reflect Nigeria’s diverse culture.

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