A lot of people especially Nigerian LGBTQ activists and the LGBTQ community were shocked to learn yesterday that the radical anti-same-sex-marriage bill has passed the second reading in the Nigerian House of Representatives.
Similar bills had appeared in the House in 2006 and 2008 but never succeeded due to a lot of things: pressure for human rights organization, not enough time for the lawmakers to see it through and some other pressing matter coming up.
A lot of people have wondered the real reason behind lawmakers’ insistence on banning same-sex marriage even though the Constitution already deems homosexuality illegal and punishable of up to 14 years in jail, while in Northern Nigeria you could be stoned to death if convicted of homosexuality.
It is clear that Nigerian lawmakers always are desperately looking for relevance. They are using the anti-same-sex marriage bill to achieve that.
They also call it an “anti-same-sex-marriage” bill, rather than an “anti-gay” bill, to increase support from Nigerians.
One pertinent question to ask: Why do these Nigerian lawmakers not pay attention to important problems plaguing the country, such as lack of security, fraud, the economy, etc.? Instead they focus on banning same-sex marriage, which no gay or lesbian person in Nigeria has ever asked for.
Their target isn’t just LGBTQ people, but also human rights defenders. The bill prohibits organizations that provide support to LGBTQ people. It also insists that people must report family members who they suspect are gay or lesbian.
We have over a million times reminded the Nigerian government that Nigeria is a secular state that must not enact laws on a basis of a particular religious or cultural view.
Nigeria has consistently joined other countries around the world in fighting against HIV/AIDS. But these lawmakers hypocritically try to further criminalize same-sex- loving individuals even though research has proven that LGBTQ people are most at risk of contracting HIV. Such laws make the problem worse. Hypocrisy is the order of the day in Nigeria.
People have refused to see how this bill would affect them if it becomes law — not just LGBTQ people.
About a month ago a video was circulating round the internet about four men who were brutally beaten to death cos they were suspected to be armed robbers. This is highlights the fact that Nigerians take laws into their hand and so one can only imagine what the ugly picture would be for LGBTQ people if this bill becomes law.
For Africa’s most populous nation which has tons and tons of issues that is plaguing it, this is bill is totally unnecessary and sends us back to many many years of underdevelopment. I join my voice with the so many activists, NGO’s, people and governments around the world calling on the Nigerian government to disregard and do away with this bill and face other important issues and also take a step forward in improving on its human rights records, protecting and supporting all its citizens regardless of their age, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.
- Update on Nigerian Homophobic bill. (nigerianlgbtindiaspora.wordpress.com)
- 3 months in Nigerian jail for mistaken gay sex, or rape? (76crimes.com)