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Update: Nigerian Anti-Gay Bill (Video)

Update: Nigerian Anti-Gay Bill (Video)

A vote on Nigeria’s proposed anti-gay law is scheduled for next week, according to the group Nigerian LGBTIs in Diaspora Against Anti Same Sex Laws.

The group has been attending the Nigerian parliament to observe proceedings, despite initial difficulties in gaining admittance and following the hostile reception which LGBT advocates received at a hearing on the laws, held 31 October.

The group held a protest at the Nigerian embassy in London, 15 November, and were snubbed by the Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dr Dalhatu Sarki Tafida , who refused to meet with them. The Embassy also ordered that the protest move over the road – because ‘red carpet’ visitors were due to arrive.

Protest organizer Yemisi Ilesanmi told Behind The Mask that “the behaviour was unethical, discriminatory and shows a lack of respect and contempt by the High Commissioner for the citizens of Nigeria especially the LGBT community.”

The protesters carried placards, banners and slogans with messages such as, “Kiss Homophobia, Bi-phobia and Trans-phobia Goodbye,” “Proudly Gay, Proudly Nigerian,” “Some Nigerians are Gay, Get over it,” “Kiss Anti Same Sex marriage bill and Sodomy laws Goodbye” and “Stop turning us into refugees, Repeal Sodomy laws Now!”.

Speaking on the megaphone, Davis Mac-Iyalla urged Nigerians to repent of their homophobia; he also demanded that the senators should stop peeping into citizens bedrooms and instead take seriously the important task of moving Nigeria’s economy forward.

Tokunbo Oke, a Nigerian human right defender and straight ally urged the Nigerian government to stop its discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transexuals. He said the emphasis of the Nigerian government should be on curbing corruption and not how to further criminalize its vulnerable citizens.

The draconian proposed anti-same-sex marriage 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 foreign same-sex couples if they enter Nigeria.

Damian Ugwu, a rights activist at the Lagos-based Social Justice Advocacy Initiative, said that the bill could have serious implications even for people who aren’t gay. Migrants in search of work in bigger centers are a vulnerable group.

“It’s going to give the Nigerian police, who are already known for abusing their power, a license to violate the rights of both gay and non-gay people. It’s going to create an avenue where young men and women, who often live together in big cities for financial reasons, will become targets for extortion,” he said.

Analysts see the bill, which has been shelved twice in five years, as a potential boost to the popularity of a government whose approval ratings have stalled since elections in April of this year. Most Nigerians strongly disapprove of homosexuality, with many seeing it as a foreign import at odds with a deeply religious society.

A 2008 survey by the non-profit Nigeria’s Information for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, questioning 6,000 Nigerians on their attitudes to homosexuality, found that only 1.4 percent of respondents said they felt “tolerant” towards sexual minorities.

Ilesanmi has condemned what she has called the “deafening silence” of Nigerian liberals and the left on the bill.

“The rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals and Intersex not to be discriminated against are not yet considered human rights by Nigerian Left, Progressives, and human rights defenders. In the course of my advocacy for LGBT rights, I have lost many “comrades” as friends, many called me unpalatable names, many used hate speech to describe gays and lesbians, some said it was not the right time to engage in this debate or fight for sexual minority because there are more important issues to be tackled like unemployment, removal of fuel subsidy, corruption.”

“I wonder how the Right to Life and Right to be free from Discrimination could be termed as unimportant by activists. Also disturbing is the fact that few progressives that supported LGBTI rights and signed the online petition I created against the bill, were bullied by the “elite” leftists, our so called ‘senior comrades’ chastised them and claimed they are losing focus!” she wrote.

Video of the London protest:

Related stories:

Support Brave Sierra Leone LGBTI Activists

Nigerian Gays Fight Blackmail, Extortion Using the Internet

Nigeria Pushes on with Draconian Anti-Gay Bill

Read more: , , , , ,

Picture courtesy Yemisi Ilesanmi

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6:16PM PST on Dec 4, 2011

TRUE christians hate what is bad , not the person , God clearly says homosexuality is condemned.

6:45AM PST on Dec 2, 2011

And I thought it must be hard to be gay in America. It is unbelievable that they can actually put someone in prison for living with the one they love.

8:42PM PST on Nov 29, 2011

If you call yourself a Christian, you fall under the jurisdiction of the Church when it needs to clean house.

8:40PM PST on Nov 29, 2011

God likes to be Number One, so that said, people need to resolve their issues about hate and sex and decide what is really Number One, God, hate, sex, or what? Until they do they are giving the rest of us Christians who have our priorities right a bad name.

11:32AM PST on Nov 29, 2011

It's really sad to see how "humans" cling to backward, Medieval paradigms of what's right and wrong/good or evil. And we call ourselves evolved and think we're above other animal species??!!!

1:46PM PST on Nov 28, 2011

I said nothing about theocracy. I am glad we aren't a theocracy.

It is about people calling themselves Christians and disobeying the Word of God. All they have to do is dump the Christian label.

The issue is people
a. giving us a bad name because they want to have sex and be Christians
b. and incidentally, the anti-homosexuals also giving us a bad name by hating.

Why don't both of you dump the Christian label until you are willing to obey the Word in love?

3:05AM PST on Nov 28, 2011

Much as this important - in Nigeria , I believe & wish to make us all more aware how in Nigeria there is a growing concern regarding Nigerian children being osteracised and murdered
following their being accused of PRACTISING WITCHCRAFT.

I invite you all to log-onto the latest newletter by the U.K. registered charity " Stepping Stones
Nigeria " which is:-

I apologise if I'm doing this the 'wrong' way - but I think its very important.

2:24AM PST on Nov 28, 2011

there are christians and then there are so called christians ,true ones live by the bible , they don`t lie to the people, they tell it as it is,

2:18AM PST on Nov 28, 2011

Again, I must say the same. Homosexualy is found in 450 species. Homphobia is found in only one. Which one seems to be unnatural now????

11:02PM PST on Nov 27, 2011

"I like your Christ, but not your christians. Your christians are so unlike your Christ." Ghandi.
And I agree, and this is one of the reasons why.
Teabaggers are vying for the #1 spot on my list.
I hope they understand soon that God is not happy with them, and she may decide not to know them altogether.

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