Protests are still trailing the anti gay bill which was signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan earlier this year in January.
The anti same sex marriage law has been widely condemned by the international community as an infringement of human rights and a blow against freedom of expression. However, President Jonathan maintains he has the support of the generality of the Nigerian public and has therefore refused to repeal the law despite appeals by human rights groups worldwide.
A cursory glance at the mood on social media regarding the issue reveals a very bleak reality as most Nigerians (especially home based citizens) seem to hold very strong views regarding homosexuality. With claims of a western propaganda fueling homosexuality in Nigeria and some supporters of the bill claiming that homosexuality is a disease that should be cleansed in the society, it is obvious, opponents of the bill have a steep fight on their hands.
The Nigerian lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and inter- sex community in London have declared the legislation a violation of fundamental human rights that are guaranteed under the Nigerian constitution and various regional and international human rights laws that Nigeria has ratified.
According to the group’s website, it states; ‘This law contradicts parts of the Nigerian Constitution. Nigerian LGBTs in Diaspora Against Anti Same-Sex Laws fears that the signing into law of this draconian bill gives official validation to the harassment of sexual minorities. This legislation would provide a cover for unscrupulous individuals and state institutions including the police force to hunt down, intimidate and harass citizens based on their actual or suspected sexual orientation.’
Undeterred by the strong support the passing of the bill has enjoyed in Nigeria, the group is urging all Nigerians at home and abroad to oppose the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition law and will be holding a rally in protest of the bill at Northumberland avenue (Nigeria House) on the 20th of February.
The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition law stipulates a 14 years jail term for same-sex marriage and 10 years imprisonment for public show of same-sex affection. The legislation stipulates a 10 year imprisonment for anyone who aids, abets or witness same sex relationship or marriage. The law also imposes a 10 year jail term on human rights defenders who advocate for LGBT rights.
The UK only just legislated gay marriage last year amid opposition from some politicians especially members of the leading conservative party. Is it too early to expect the same amount of tolerance we all enjoy in our adopted home in a developing country like Nigeria?
What do you think of the law?