Nigeria – Savage new anti-gay law

World's most sweeping, draconian homophobic legislation soon to become law, inaction by US, Britain and EU while fear grips the Nigerian lesbian and gay community

Janury 19, 2007

Notoriously homophobic Anglican Archbishop, Peter Akinola
LONDON — "Nigeria seems certain to legislate one of the world's most sweeping and repressive anti-gay laws, unless international pressure is bought to bear on the Nigerian government in the next few weeks," said Peter Tatchell of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights group OutRage!.

"We appeal to gay and human rights groups worldwide to take urgent action to press the Nigerian government to uphold international human rights law and to drop this draconian legislation.

"A new bill, currently being debated in the Nigerian parliament, is the most comprehensively homophobic legislation ever proposed in any country in the world. Its extremism is rivalled only by the death penalty that exists for homosexuality in several Islamic fundamentalist states," added Mr Tatchell.

"The bill is primarily concerned with banning same-sex marriage, but its sub-clauses go much further. They will strip lesbian and gay Nigerians of their already limited civil rights. The bill outlaws almost every expression, affirmation and celebration of gay identity and sexuality, and prohibits the provision of sympathetic advice and welfare support to lesbians and gay men.

"Violations will be punished with an automatic five year jail sentence.

"The draconian measure will outlaw membership of a gay group, attending a gay meeting or protest, advocating gay equality, donating money to a gay organisation, hosting or visiting a gay website, the publication or possession of gay safer sex advice, renting or selling a property to a gay couple, expressions of same-sex love in letters or emails, attending a same-sex marriage or blessing ceremony, screening or watching a gay movie, taking or possessing photos of a gay couple, and publishing, selling or loaning a gay book or video.

"Even mere socialising by two or more gay people is likely to be interpreted as illegal.

"It widens Nigeria's already harsh anti-gay laws, to criminalise any expression, public or private, of homosexuality. Attending a private gathering of gay people, or imparting HIV prevention information to a gay person, will become a crime.

"Even before this new legislation, homosexuality was punished with a 14-year jail term under civil law, and by the death penalty in the northern regions of the country that are governed by Sharia law.

"The new legislation is backed by the Anglican Church in Nigeria and by its notoriously homophobic Archbishop, Peter Akinola. They are encouraging and endorsing the bill's victimisation of their gay countrymen and women, including the victimisation of their fellow Christians who are gay.

"The new law will criminalise gay Christian gatherings, blessings and celebrations. It is a direct attack on both the Christian and gay communities of Nigeria," said Mr Tatchell.

The bill is entitled, The Prohibition of Relationships Between Persons of the Same Sex, Celebration of Marriage by Them, and for Other Matters Connected Therewith. It has been approved by the Federal Executive Council and is now before the National Assembly. It is expected to be passed and become law shortly.

Under the bill, a penalty of five years imprisonment will be imposed on any person who 'goes through the ceremony of marriage with a person of the same sex,' or who 'performs, witnesses, aids or abets the ceremony of same sex marriage,' or who 'is involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies and organisations, sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly in public and in private.'

For more information and to find out what you can do visit the Outrage! website. – Issued by Outrage!

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