Gay Humanists ‘Dismayed & Outraged’ at Nigerian Anti-Gay Bill
Kenilworth, 29 November 2011 — The UK gay humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT), a member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, has expressed its dismay and outrage at the news that Nigeria’s Senate has voted in favour of a bill which will criminalise gay marriage, gay advocacy groups and same-sex public displays of affection.
It will make it illegal to register gay clubs or organisations, as well as criminalising the “public show of same-sex amorous relationships directly or indirectly”. Under the proposed law, couples who marry could face up to 14 years each in prison. Witnesses or anyone who helps couples marry could be sentenced to ten years behind bars.
The bill, now much more wide-ranging than its initial draft, must be passed by Nigeria’s House of Representatives and signed by President Goodluck Jonathan before becoming law. However, public opinion and lawmakers’ calls for even harsher penalties show the widespread support for the measure in the deeply religious nation. “Such elements in society should be killed,” said Sen. Baba-Ahmed Yusuf Datti of the opposition party Congress for Progressive Change, drawing some murmurs of support from the gallery.
Commenting on this development the PTT’s secretary, George Broadhead, said: “Gays and lesbians already face open discrimination and abuse in a country divided by Christians and Muslims who almost uniformly oppose homosexuality. In the areas in Nigeria’s north where Islamic Sharia law has been enforced for about a decade, gays and lesbians can face death by stoning.
“It seems that there is a very real threat that this barbaric bill will become law and, if it does, Nigeria will become the most homophobic nation in Africa. Even in South Africa, the one country where gays can marry, lesbians have been brutally attacked and murdered. If the bill is enacted, the situation for LGBT people in Nigeria will become completely untenable, setting a precedent that would threaten all Nigerians’ rights to privacy, equality, free expression and free association.
“It is clear that the impetus for such legislation has come from religious sources. The Nigerian Humanist Movement (NHM), which has had financial support from the PTT, has been one of the few non-LGBT institutions defending LGBT rights in the country. Its executive director, Leo Igwe, deserves much credit for courageously speaking up for these rights in the country’s parliament.”
Further information from George Broadhead on +441926 858450.