Recent political homophobia in Nigeria, including vigilante violence and repressive legislation, is often imagined to be a reaction to outside forces: religious movements like evangelical Christianity and reformist Islam or the spread of Western homosexual identities. This article suggests this is unlikely and that understanding recent patterns of homophobia requires understanding local cultures of same-sex practice and the anxieties underlying political attempts to regulate sexuality. The article also makes some preliminary suggestions for how such an account might be attempted by looking at long-standing contradictions in systems for evaluating sexual morality in northern Nigeria and how those might help inform recent discussions of sexual immorality.

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