Nigerian Same Sex Marriage Ban Violates LGBTI Rights
A bill passed by the Nigerian House of Representatives on May 30, to ban same-sex marriage and prohibit organizations from advocating for same-sex rights, violates the rights of LGBTI people and should be vetoed by President Goodluck Jonathan. Freedom House urges the international community to condemn the bill and pressure the Nigerian government to abandon the measure and repeal the country’s existing sodomy law and other restrictive measures that undermine the human dignity of LGBTI persons.
The anti-same sex marriage bill includes punishments of up to 14 years imprisonment for violators and up to 10 years imprisonment for anyone who witnesses or supports a same-sex wedding. The draconian bill’s reach extends beyond same-sex marriage by outlawing all organizations supporting the rights of LGBTI persons and imposing jail sentences of up to 10 years for “direct or indirect” public displays of affection for same-sex couples.
The bill had already been passed by the Senate in November 2011. A June 3 statement by Nigerian human rights activists condemned the proposed law, stating that it “…will deprive Nigerians of their fundamental human rights as guaranteed in Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution.” Moreover, it directly contravenes international human rights standards and norms, including those affirmed in a resolution adopted by the U.N. Human Rights Council in June 2011 which clearly states LGBTI rights are human rights and must be observed as such.
"This legislation is indicative of growing pan-African push-back against the efforts of African activists to assert the human dignity of LGBTI persons,” said Freedom House vice president for global programs, Chloe Schwenke. “The Nigerian government, like all governments everywhere, must actively protect the human rights of its LGBTI citizens and residents, and support those members of the LGBTI community who face harassment and intimidation as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity."
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