Nigeria criticizes U.N. for seeking end to LGBTI repression

The body of Delon Melville and the bushes where his body was found (Photo courtesy of Kaieteur News)
Murder victim Delon Melville — one of 1,000s — and the bushes where his body was found. Click the image for a list of some recent homophobic and transphobic murders.

The hate-crime murders of thousands of LGBTI people worldwide aren’t enough to convince Nigerian officials or their anti-gay American supporters that tolerance for sexual minorities is a good idea.

Nigeria claims that an appeal by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights for recognition of the human rights of LGBTI people is an infringement on democratic values, religious freedom, and cultural standards in support of families.

In a law enacted early last year, Nigeria prohibits same-sex marriages, denies the right of association and advocacy to gay Nigerians, and provides for 10 years in prison for any “public show of same-sex amorous relationship.”

In May, the High Commissioner mentioned Nigeria along with several other nations in an annual report on repression and violence against LGBTI people worldwide. The report stated:

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (Photo courtesy of UNAUSA)
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (Photo courtesy of UNAUSA)

“All human beings, irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity, are entitled to enjoy the protection of international human rights law with respect to the rights to life, security of person and privacy, to freedom from torture and ill-treatment, discrimination and arbitrary arrest and detention, and to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, and all other civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.”

Nigeria was cited in particular because sharia law, including the death penalty for male-male intimacy, is on the books in the northern portions of the country.  The same punishment is also threatened in Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, parts of Somalia and, when a revised legal code takes effect, in Brunei, the High Commissioner reported.

The U.N. report added:

“In the past two years, laws have been enacted or proposed in several States that seek to restrict public discussion of sexual orientation under the guise of ‘protecting minors’ from information on so-called ‘non-traditional sexual relations’.  These laws, sometimes called ‘anti-propaganda’ laws, are often vaguely worded and arbitrarily restrict the rights to freedom of expression and assembly. They also contribute to ongoing persecution of members of the LGBT community, including young persons who identify or are perceived as LGBT.

“[Observers] have expressed concerns in this context about developments in Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria [where the law in effect], the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation [where the first such law was passed and is still in effect], Uganda and Ukraine.”

Although the report cited more than 2,000 murders of LGBTI people worldwide because of widespread homophobia and transphobia, fostered by anti-LGBTI laws and failure to  protect sexual minorities, the anti-LGBTI Center for Family and Human Rights praised Nigeria’s response to the U.N. report, saying that:

Logo of C-FAM, the Center for Family and Human Rights
Logo of C-FAM, the Center for Family and Human Rights

“Countries have a ‘duty to ensure the family values, the religious values and the cultural values of its citizens are protected,’ which are ‘the bedrock of the moral values of the individual.’ …

“The [Nigerian] law ‘synchronizes’ Nigeria’s culture, traditions, and two main religions, all of which reject ‘unreservedly, same-sex marriage, homosexuality, lesbianism, gay and transgender attitudes.’ …

“Privately African and other delegates express immense frustration at what they see as an obsession with LGBT issues by UN personnel and some governments.”

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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