12 February 2014

Nigeria: Gays Rally Global Support for Protest Against Law

Photo: Flickr/Riekhavoc
Activists protesting Uganda anti-gay bill (file photo)

Gay people in Nigeria are calling on the world to help them protest against the law prohibiting same-sex union, signed into law last month by President Goodluck Jonathan.

The Solitary Alliance is hoping international pressure could help repeal the legislation. The United States has also continued to mount pressure on the federal government to reconsider its decision to criminalise same-sex unions as it restated its opposition to persecuting people because of their sexual orientation.

A gay rights activist and human rights advocate, Michael Ighodaro, said: "Aside from the fact that sections of this law are in direct violation of our fundamental human rights - freedom of expression and assembly, freedom to have a private and family life - and set back the provision of healthcare services, they effectively signify that it is open season to attack the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community."

Since the signing of this law, a number of people have been arrested. The LGBT community as well as their friends and family, are living in fear against state-sanctioned violence.

The Solitary Alliance, Nigeria calls on the rest of the world to join in a Global Day of Action on March 7 to stand against homophobia and the violation of human rights. Ighodaro added: "The world has been silent on the passage of the bill, the silence is like saying Nigeria gays are not as important as gays in Uganda or Russia.'

"That's why we are calling on everyone to come out on (March 7) to show solidarity to Nigeria's LGBT community, to show that the world has not neglected us." The US is, however, not relenting in its efforts to make Nigeria reconsider its position on the anti-gay law.

The US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, during a live-web interaction with journalists yesterday, explained that his country was concerned about discrimination against anyone on the basis of sexual orientation. He said: "US is opposed to the legislation targeted against gay people and we will continue to press forward to see that it is changed so that those group of people will have the freedom to exercise their rights.

"We are of the view that criminalisation against anybody on the basis of their sexual orientation and affiliation is wrong and contradicts human rights law. Nigeria is quick and has gone far in signing the bill into law. We will continue to press the Nigerian government and the legislators to change the anti-gay law."

Thomas - Greenfield also expressed concerned about the terrorist activities of the outlawed Boko Haram sect that has executed daring attacks against innocent civilians, in recent times. She pledged the commitment of the US government to continue to work with Nigeria to end terrorism.

"There has to be a multifaceted approach to dealing with extremism and we will continue to work with Nigeria to combat it. Terrorism, we know affects the whole of the Nigerian people and with our collaboration with the Nigerian government, we hope to bring an end to it in the country as we will not relent in our efforts at fighting it to a finish."

With Agency Report

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