The Islamic police force in Nigeria have arrested 19 Muslims who are accused of attending a same-sex wedding on 18 December.

The force raided the ceremony in Kano, the main city in northern Nigeria, after a tip-off was reported, spokesperson Lawal Ibrahim Fagge told the BBC.

The couple had not taken their vows when police disrupted the wedding but they managed to flee the scene. Police, also known as Hisbah in the country, continued to search for them.

Fagge said the police force stated those arrested would not be punished. Instead, the group has undergone “counselling,” with parents and guardians urged to come forward.

Kano has a majority Muslim population, where the Islamic legal system is enforced alongside secular law.

A spokesperson for the Hisbah stated: “We’ll explore the avenue of change before we charge them in court. First we counsel them, and involve the parents and we hope they change their lifestyle.”

Homosexual acts are outlawed under both legal systems in Nigeria, however Kano’s Islamic courts have never convicted anyone for being LGBTQ+.

Activist groups have campaigned for the nation to respect LGBTQ+ rights, yet they continue to face heavy opposition from people with strict conservative religious beliefs.