64% rise in reported Nigerian human rights violations

Summary of 2015 Nigerian human rights violation report, published by TIERS.
Summary of 2015 Nigerian human rights violation report, published by TIERS.

Reported human rights violations affecting LGBTI Nigerians were up 64 percent last year in comparison to 2014, according to summaries of the two years’ reports published by The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs).

TIERS, a human rights organization based in Lagos, Nigeria, has worked with similar groups elsewhere in Nigeria to document abuses affecting LGBTI people, especially since the enactment of the nation’s harsh anti-gay law in January 2014.

The two reports are summarized in the graphics above (2015 data) and below (2014 data).

Human rights abuses in 2014 against LGBTI Nigerians are shown in statistical form in this infographic from The Initiative for Equal Rights, presented on the Where Love is a Crime website.
Summary of 2014 Nigerian human rights violation report, published by TIERS

The misleadingly named 2014 law, known as the “Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act,” not only prohibits same-sex marriages, with prison sentences of up to 14 years for same-sex couples; it also denies the right of association and advocacy to gay Nigerians and provides for 10 years in prison for anyone convicted of a “public show of same-sex amorous relationship.” Since it went into effect two years ago, the law has fostered increasing homophobic violence in Nigeria.

The 2015 human rights report, which is scheduled to be published online next weekend, was discussed during a TIERS Human Rights Day event last month. This is one heterosexual Nigerian attendee’s acccount of a presentation by Olumide Makanjuola, executive director of TIERS, about the report and related human rights abuses:

TIERS logo
TIERS logo

“He informed us about the recent occurrences in the country as regards the law and ‘sexual offenders’.

“The new trend for Nigerian policemen is to pick up young guys on the road because of the way they walk, take them to cyber cafes and force them to print out their private messages on social media to ‘prove’ that they’re gay, and then lock them up.

“Olumide said his organization has spent over N600,000 [about US $3,000] in the past month to bail people out of police custody on the suspicion of being gay. The saddest part is that none of these people were actually caught in the act; they were simply arrested based on speculation and suspicion.

“Another thing that sexual minorities face is extortion from people who are aware of their sexual orientation; you must pay them a certain sum monthly or they will inform the police. And if you report to the police that you are being blackmailed, they’d let your blackmailer go and then arrest you instead for being gay.

“The government isn’t really the problem. We are, because we make them think it is okay for our countrymen to beat and arrest the gay ones among us.

“For women, there have been cases of ‘correctional rapes’, where many men will take turns to brutally rape a suspected lesbian in a bid to correct her sexuality. Maybe if she had enough penises forcefully rammed into her, she would suddenly, magically enjoy them instead of fellow women.

“The TIERs 2015 Report on Human Rights Violations based on Real or Perceived Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Nigerian is damning. And we as Nigerians need to do better. The truth is that, if we allow LGBT people to be oppressed because we feel it’s not our business since we’re heterosexual, a day will come when our own rights will be taken away too.”

In this GLAAD video, Nigerian LGBT advocate Olumide Femi Makanjuola discusses the reality of being LGBT in Nigeria. (Click on the image to see the video.)
In this GLAAD video, Nigerian LGBT advocate Olumide Femi Makanjuola discusses the reality of being LGBT in Nigeria. (Click on the image to see the video.)

The 2015 report was compiled from data collected by seven Nigerian organizations, including Advocacy for Grassroots Empowerment, the Initiative for Advancement of Humanity, Improved Sexual Health Advocacy on Rights to Health, the Access to Good Health Initiative, Access to Health and Rights Development Initiative and TIERS (The Initiative for Equal Rights):

  • Initiative for Advancement of Humanity (IAH) is a human rights organization based in the Niger-Delta Region that provides legal, paralegal, gender-issues and public health intervention services.
  • The Access to Good Health Initiative (AGHI) is a community-based organization in Southeastern Nigeria that works to defend human rights and to improve access to health care for most at-risk for people who are most vulnerable to experiencing human rights violations and HIV/STI infections.
  • The Improved Sexual Health Advocacy on Rights to Health Initiative (ISHRAI), based in Lagos, works at the grassroots level with sexual minorities who face  discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation and health status.
  • The Access To Health And Rights Development Initiative (AHRDI) provides is a human rights and health advocacy/youth capacity building and development center.
  • The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs) works to protect and promote the human rights of sexual minorities nationally and regionally through “education, empowerment and engagement with the many publics in Nigeria.” It was founded in 2005 in response to discrimination and marginalisation of sexual minorities in both HIV prevention programming and mainstream human rights work.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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