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Nigeria Pushes on with Draconian Anti-Gay Bill

Nigeria Pushes on with Draconian Anti-Gay Bill

Nigerian and international human rights bodies have opposed that country’s draconian proposed anti-same-sex marriage bill.

The bill would punish people of the same sex who live together as a couple with up to three years in prison. Anyone who “witnesses, abet[s] and aids” such a relationship could be imprisoned for up to five years. The bill could even be used against foreigners in same-sex marriages if they enter Nigeria.

In a letter to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives, the Nigerian National Human Rights Commission, and other national, regional and international bodies urged legislators to reject the bill. If passed, the groups appealed to Jonathan to veto it.

Nigeria’s parliament has twice before seen anti-gay bills. Both times they ended up being dropped in the face of civil society protest in Nigeria supported by an international outcry. Article 214 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act already provides up to 14 years in prison for anyone who “has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature.”

According to a report in Behind The Mask, legislators are trying to get this bill passed by ‘wrong footing’ Nigerian activists and international attention. But opponents managed to attend a first parliamentary hearing 31 October.

At the same time a Care2 petition with over 12,000 signatures was presented.

According to Yemisi Ilesanmi of Nigerian LGBTI in Diaspora Against Anti Same Sex Laws:

“A lady from the LGBT coalition stepped forward [at the hearing] to present the position paper of Nigeria LGBTI in Diaspora Against Same Sex Laws. She was interjected many times by different religious and other homophobic groups present in the room with the aim to bully and humiliate her. She bravely carried on with the presentation of the paper amidst all the distractions. However, she was soon overwhelmed by the unruly crowd and eventually broke down in tears.”

“She managed to finish the presentation amidst abuses and offensive calls mostly from religious groups present. The senators immediately assailed her with so many questions without giving her any space to catch her breath. Many of the questions asked were irrelevant and mostly intended to humiliate her; in fact many of the questions would pass as hate comments in any civilized country. Some of the questions asked by the senators were “Do you believe in God?” “Are you a lesbian?” “Do you know that homosexuality was imported from the western world to Africa?” Her response that she is a Catholic generated a lot of unprintable remarks.”

When a woman from a Catholic lawyers’ group spoke saying that homosexuals are mentally deranged people and that no one in the room would openly identify as a homosexual, one of the bill’s opponents stood up and said “I am a gay and proud to be!”

He said that cameras immediately focused on him and religious groups started screaming abuses.

He was disappointed to see that no one else stood with him that time, but later during the hearing ” four courageous faces” stood with him out of 30 LGBT people present. Those who did not explained later that they feared the consequences of publicly identifying as gay.

There was a great disparity in allotted time at the hearing, says Ilesanmi, and amongst those supporting the bill were the Inspector General of the Nigerian Police and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).

Ilesanmi said that in a secular state the Senators violated the fundamental rights of the activists by condoning abuses directed at them and encouraging religious questions.

The international groups opposing the bill point out that:

Criminalizing individuals for “living together as husband and wife” further expands existing anti-gay punishments. They would no longer be limited to sexual acts between people of the same sex, but would potentially include mere cohabitation or any suspected “intimate relationship” between members of the same sex. Far less evidence would be needed for conviction, and prejudice and suspicion would be a basis for arrests. This threatens all Nigerians’ right to private life, the groups said.

The proposed five-year sentence for anyone who “witnesses, abet[s] and aids” a same-sex relationship is greater than the punishment stipulated in the bill for those who enter into a “same gender marriage.” This provision could be used to punish anyone who gives any help or advice to a suspected “same gender” couple, for example, anyone who tells them their rights or approves of their relationships. Advocates, civil society organizations, and human rights defenders would be ready targets.

 

Relates stories:

In a Remote Part of Kenya, LGBT People Start Organizing

Zimbabwe PM’s Two-Step on LGBT Rights Continues

‘Kill the Gays’ Bill Back in Uganda’s Parliament

 

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Nigeria parliament image via Wikipedia

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38 comments

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10:46AM PST on Nov 27, 2011

well said paul d

9:03AM PST on Nov 10, 2011

Christopher M, it is people like you, and your kind, that have driven so many away from the churches with all their flaws. Christianity died out 1700 years ago when it became a branch of the Roman state, except for a few here and there who were mostly persecuted by people like you.

How would anyone know you are a Christian if you didn't tell them? We certainly couldn't tell by your words and your arrogance. Saved my butt!

Fortunately there are some real Christians, people who really try to live their lives on what Jesus himself taught, no one else. People who bring light into the world. You're not even worthy to stand in the shadow of great, true Christians like Archbishop Desmond Tutu or Martin Luther King Jr. Fortunately I have some truly loving Christian friends & there are some truly Christian groups that place love above all else, as Jesus taught. They're almost enough to make me believe. You certainly don't. You should be ashamed. How can you be 'saved' and still have such a dark, judgmental heart? 'You shall know they're my disciples by their love.' You fail.

8:54AM PST on Nov 10, 2011

Christopher M, spoken like a true Muslim.

If Jesus didn't come to do away with the old Mosaic Law, why is it he taught the exact opposite of it? Where Moses called for stonings, Jesus said no. Where Moses called for all those dietary laws (do you observe all of those?, Bet you don't) Jesus said it was what went out of the mouth that polluted a person. Jesus said there were only 2 great commandments & you sure can't call the Law of Moses loving in any way. He didn't keep any of it. He didn't destroy it, he fulfilled it.

You may have read the Bible, but you didn't learn anything. Do you live by all the other laws in the OT? Don't eat shellfish, don't wear mixed materials, a son who is disobedient should be killed along with several others? If you are going to believe the old hateful anti-gay law, you better believe all the rest.

Jesus never said anything against gay people, but he sure condemned the rich & religious hypocrites, like you & your fundie hatemongers. When's the last time you & your holy roller bunch spoke out against these groups? Too close to home? Hypocrites.

You people wouldn't know a Christian thought or deed if you saw one. You are the modern Pharisees. Whited sepulchers full of dead men's bones. & no, we don't believe in any manmade religion. You're a good reason why.

5:48PM PST on Nov 8, 2011

Religious extremism is another word for taking religion seriously for one self and insisting that if others go along with the faith they take it seriously too. It isn't what you do on Sunday morning for an hour. It is what you become when you are grateful for being saved.

5:44PM PST on Nov 8, 2011

I've read the Bible at least three times. If you want something to cover your ass with, to justify yourself with, the Bible ain't it. The Bible is the last thing you want. I read Shirley MacLaine and she is better for your purposes.

It is funny when atheists, for example, try to debate Bible with me when I have actually read the Bible.

Just say, "I don't believe in the Bible. I am not a Christian." You made your choice to stick with your sexuality over God. It is much to be regretted but it is your choice. At least Jesus would prefer hot or cold rather than in between.






5:34PM PST on Nov 8, 2011

I did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. -Jesus

And the Law says... you know what it says.....

Man should not lie with man as a man lies with woman....


Glad to be of service!

Very sorry, but the Bible simply does not cover your ass.

12:35AM PST on Nov 8, 2011

Christopher M, what a load of twaddle! You, like others of your arrogant, self-righteous ilk, claim to be Christians, but base your bigoted ideas on Moses, the neurotic Paul & Augustine, among others. Too bad you don't base your so-called Christianity on what Jesus said & reject all other things that others spout that contradicts his teachings.

Show us where Jesus said anything against gay people. He never said a thing but taught only love, forgiveness, tolerance & nonviolence. Mohammed & Moses did say gay people should be killed, so it seems you are more in line with them than with the God of Love & the Prince of Peace.

But Jesus did condemn religious hypocrites (like you) & the rich. When's the last time anyone heard these Faux Xtians condemn these 2 groups? Never, yet they condemn gay people, whom Jesus didn't, & ignore those whom Jesus did condemn. Hypocrites. It's people like you that give the name Christian a bad rep.

You ignorant religionists of all stripes (Nigeria is just over 50% Muslim - the most anti-gay hate group in the world) have no right to force your beliefs on others. They are just that - beliefs & opinions. Religion is a choice. Sexual orientation is not. If you think people can change that, then change yours right now. No one can change their sexual & affectational orientation. The real Creator is so much better, more loving & more intelligent than all you religious bigots make God to be. It is blasphemy

9:56AM PST on Nov 7, 2011

Once I figured "God's will" was a word for statistical probability. That was before I met a bunch of Christians who had me beat. They were stronger and more loving than I was, I had to admit defeat. If you can't beat them, join them.

There are spiritual forces in the universe we can't understand. Since some of them pump Christians up, I figure there is a Christian God and the Bible must have been written by... Him. I know the My Way or the highway (to hell) bites but when you stop and think about it, God loves you. And pities you if you are committed to your sex life. He can easily see there is more to existence than your sexuality for the fleeting time you have on Earth. But yet it seems so important to you. If you let Him love you, you will ultimately understand God made us as companions, and learn to love back. We love Him because He first loved us....

6:06AM PST on Nov 7, 2011

and the HATE and IGNORANCE continue..... please lets stop putting religion and bible on all of this!!!!!. like politics and religion they DONT mix.... sooo sick of always including religion on some issues is ridiculous!!!!!!is all peoples interpretation....

5:55AM PST on Nov 7, 2011

All of this cannot be blamed on religion, only religious extremists are to blame here. I am both religious and in support of the LGBT so there is a happy medium in which the two entities can be in peace. When we stop blaming everyone who is religious and start trying to make a difference in the lives of these people there will be change.

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