Africa

Nigerian leader: Vote for me if you oppose gay rights

Muhammadu Buhari (Photo courtesy of Daily Post)

Muhammadu Buhari (Photo courtesy of Daily Post)

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has injected the issue of gay rights into his campaign to win the presidential election scheduled for March 28.

Femi Fani-Kayode, Jonathan’s spokesman at the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) campaign, today accused challenger Muhammadu Buhari of striking a deal with Western nations to repeal last year’s new anti-gay law in exchange for their support for his campaign.

The 2014 law, formally known as the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, calls for prison sentences of up to 14 years for any Nigerian who enters into a same-sex marriage and up to 10 years to anyone who attends or assists in a same-sex wedding in Nigeria, who makes a  “public show of same-sex amorous relationship” or belongs to a “gay organization.”

Buhari has given no indication that he opposes the harsh new law, which Jonathan signed in January 2014.  (See, for example, the political commentary in the article “For LGBTIs, Nigeria vote is ‘Sharia fanatic’ vs. ‘inept incumbent.’ “

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed the so-called "Jail the Gays Bill" on Jan. 7, 2014. (Photo courtesy of Onobello.com)

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed the so-called “Jail the Gays Bill” on Jan. 7, 2014. (Photo courtesy of Onobello.com)

Jonathan’s allegation made the headlines of many Nigerian newspapers:

Fani-Kayode also claimed that Buhari’s supporters are preparing to air a “documentary” about the personal lives of Jonathan, his wife and other leaders that is “riddled with falsehood” and “vulgar, smutty, cheap, shameful and salacious.”

Buhari did not respond directly to Fani-Kayode’s statements. BuzzFeed reported:

Garba Shehu, media director for Buhari’s campaign, responded to the attack in a phone interview with BuzzFeed News by saying, “That man who is speaking for President Jonathan is a mad man. He is in the gutter, and we’re not going to dignify it with a response.”

Shehu added that the attacks reflected desperation from Jonathan’s camp because they “have no issues” on which to run. The campaign’s “real issues,” Shehu said, include security, widespread unemployment, and rampant corruption, and “the government has no answers for this.”

Buhari, a Muslim from Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria, has a Christian running mate from the south. Jonathan, a Christian from Christian-dominated southern Nigeria, has a Muslim running mate from the north.

Although Buhari lost decisively to Jonathan in the 2011 presidential election, some observers predict a close race this year because of Jonathan’s inability to defeat the Boko Haram insurgency in the north.

(This article was revised on March 12 to add the Buhari campaign’s response to BuzzFeed.)

8 thoughts on “Nigerian leader: Vote for me if you oppose gay rights

  1. Pingback: Nigerian challenger: Vote for me; I too oppose gay marriage | 76 CRIMES

  2. Pingback: Equal Love in the Warm Heart of Africa? LGBT Rights and the case of R v Monjeza and Chimbalanga | Malawi Blawg

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