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Update: Nigerian Legal Attack on LGBT Worsens

Update: Nigerian Legal Attack on LGBT Worsens

On November 28, Nigeria’s Senate passed an ‘anti gay marriage’ bill, adding further penalties and extending its scope.

The Senate added to provisions targeting those living together (and those who don’t report them) with new clauses making it illegal to register gay clubs or organizations, as well as criminalizing the “public show of same-sex amorous relationships directly or indirectly” with 10 years imprisonment.

Says Associated Press:

…The bill also could target human rights and HIV-prevention programs run by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Nigeria, which has the world’s third-largest population of people living with HIV and AIDS. A U.S. Embassy spokeswoman declined to immediately comment.

Sen. Baba-Ahmed Yusuf Datti said during Monday’s debate:

Such elements in society should be killed.

Davis Mac Iyalla campaign director of the Nigerian LGBT in diaspora group, said:

The Nigeria senators have further demonstrated their hate, discrimination and oppression of vulnerable LGBT Nigerians. I call on all respected human rights activists to join forces with us to fight the bill.

The campaign group expressed its concerns that the bill would further turn many LGBT Nigerians living in diaspora into asylum seekers and refugees. Yemisi Ilesanmi from the group has condemned what she has called the “deafening silence” of Nigerian liberals and the left on the bill. Some Nigerian human rights groups have pointed out that a bill supposedly aimed at gay people will impact marginalised groups like migrant workers, making them subject to bribery demands from police.

The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs) Executive Director- Joseph Sewedo Akoro said:

The implication of this bill is enormous and threatens TIERs legal position to operate as a human rights organization in Nigeria.

We are greatly concerned by this development and hope that the House of Representatives will be careful in dealing with the bill: recognizing the provisions of the constitution towards human rights promotion and international human rights obligations.

Writing in Behind The Mask, Akoro noted that “International opinion didn’t seem to trouble lawmakers, some of whom laughed and joked during the debate.”

“One senator however worried that the bill would hinder the tradition of Nigeria’s Igbo ethnic group in the southeast. In this community infertile wives are allowed to ‘marry’ other women to bear their husbands’ children,” he wrote.

Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights advocacy organization the Peter Tatchell Foundation, added:

“This bill violates the equality and non-discrimination guarantees of Article 42 of the Nigerian Constitution and Articles 2 and 3 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, which Nigeria has signed and pledged to uphold.”

“There is a good chance that this bill, and Nigeria’s long-standing criminalisation of same-sex relations, can be challenged in the courts. This could be a future option for LGBTI campaigners and human rights defenders.”

“The law against homosexuality is not an authentic national law that originated in Nigerian jurisprudence. It was imposed on Nigeria by the British colonial administration in the nineteenth century. Despite Nigeria now being an independent country, this British colonial law has never been repealed.”

“Our Nigerian colleagues are still hopeful that they can defeat the bill at the next stage. We stand in solidarity with their struggle for LGBTI equality,” he said.

Nigerian LGBTs in diaspora held a protest in front of the Nigerian House in London recently and there will be another protest rally at the Nigerian embassy in New York on December 5.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, then for signature by the President, Goodluck Jonathan.

Related stories:

Update: Nigerian Anti-Gay Bill (Video)

Support Brave Sierra Leone LGBTI Activists

Nigerian Gays Fight Blackmail, Extortion Using the Internet

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Picture courtesy Yemisi Ilesanmi

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9 comments

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9:29PM PST on Dec 7, 2011

A class in RESPECT AND RESPONSIBILITY should be taught from Grade one to graduation, children should be taught that anything is permissible as long as it does not hurt themselves or anybody else. Common sense would dictate that if children are taught at a very early age that every child has their own strengths and weaknesses and that they should use their strengths to help not tease or bully others.
Later on Sex Education should be taught from Contraceptives, Masturbation,LGBT and all forms of sex. Let us face it whether we like it or not children are curious and are having sex earlier and earlier. They should be taught the joys and the consequences of having sex ( Pregnancy,STD, AIDS ) But you say when will this be taught. Cut out Geography or History early on then put it back in and remove Geometry and Algebra. They can learn this in college if need be. I believe this is a solution. Nipping it in the Bud so that Bullying, Sexual Assault, and many others will be greatly diminished if not eradicated. It is my belief that when children graduate with these principals where they are taught RESPECT for themselves and others and to take RESPONSIBILITY for their actions. Within a few generations this world would be a much better place to live in.

9:28PM PST on Dec 7, 2011

A class in RESPECT AND RESPONSIBILITY should be taught from Grade one to graduation, children should be taught that anything is permissible as long as it does not hurt themselves or anybody else. Common sense would dictate that if children are taught at a very early age that every child has their own strengths and weaknesses and that they should use their strengths to help not tease or bully others.
Later on Sex Education should be taught from Contraceptives, Masturbation,LGBT and all forms of sex. Let us face it whether we like it or not children are curious and are having sex earlier and earlier. They should be taught the joys and the consequences of having sex ( Pregnancy,STD, AIDS ) But you say when will this be taught. Cut out Geography or History early on then put it back in and remove Geometry and Algebra. They can learn this in college if need be. I believe this is a solution. Nipping it in the Bud so that Bullying, Sexual Assault, and many others will be greatly diminished if not eradicated. It is my belief that when children graduate with these principals where they are taught RESPECT for themselves and others and to take RESPONSIBILITY for their actions. Within a few generations this world would be a much better place to live in.

9:05AM PST on Dec 4, 2011

This is no surprise ...

2:20PM PST on Dec 2, 2011

Must one be Nigerian to understand? As to the Nigerian junk filling spam boxes. Is it REALLY from Nigeria?..

8:47AM PST on Dec 2, 2011

Very sad to read. The ignorance and intolerance is very depressing to see.

6:50AM PST on Dec 2, 2011

Homophobia seems to be a cultural thing for Nigeria and, of course, in the North of the country there is the dominance of Islam. Education is probably the only cure but that does not happen quickly. How we long for enlightenment for all of humanity.

4:54AM PST on Dec 2, 2011

I hate to sound bitter, but since I am, it should be no surprise. Nigeria should have a lot of things much higher on their lists that harassing people because they're LGBTQI. Like stopping all the ripoff attempts coming from Nigerians, as my spam box fills daily with this bs.

Like working on the ecological crisis that is happening, the economic disasters that affected Nigeria for decades, education for all of the children and insuring that religious unrest doesn't destroy the country. Like becoming a country of laws and not corruption. That way they can point to the US and shake their heads.

1:39PM PST on Dec 1, 2011

If you're not gay don't marry a gay person and gay marriage has no effect on your life.

1:33PM PST on Dec 1, 2011

This is ridiculous. I can't believe it.

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