Abuja loses Commonwealth Games bid

But Nigeria and Africa should get another chance

Peter Tatchell | November 13, 2007

L to r: Mike Hersee, Peter Tatchell, Davis Mac-Iyalla and Rev Stephen Coles
Commenting on Friday's decision by the Commonwealth Games Federation to award Glasgow – not the Nigerian city of Abuja – the 2014 Commonwealth Games, gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of OutRage! said:

"While it would have been great for Abuja to host the 2014 Games, sadly Nigeria is not yet ready for this honour, given its sad record of human rights abuses, corruption, election fraud and environmental destruction.

"These human rights abuses include criminalisation, job discrimination and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people," said Mr Tatchell.

See the briefing below on LGBT human rights abuses in Nigeria.

Nigerian gay human rights activist, Davis Mac-Iyalla, of the gay Christian campaign group, Changing Attitude Nigeria, said:
"We are not rejoicing that Nigeria has lost its bid to host the games, but we hope our government will now improve human rights for LGBTs and for all Nigerians. If these improvements are made, Nigeria should be given a chance to host the 2018 games.

"Changing Attitude Nigeria won't relent in our struggle for LGBT equality and inclusion, in government, the law, the church and in sport," he said.

Peter Tatchell of the UK-based LGBT human rights organization OutRage! added:
"Holding the 2014 Games in Abuja would have done little to benefit ordinary Nigerians. The main beneficiaries would have been Nigeria's notoriously corrupt business and political elite. They would have made millions out of bribes and kick-backs for construction, TV rights and advertising contracts.

"I hope the Commonwealth Games Federation will now work with Nigeria and other African countries so they can remedy the problems that have, so far, prevented them from hosting the games.

"It is shocking that no African country has ever been awarded the Commonwealth Games. This failing must be rectified, so that the hosting of the event becomes truly inclusive," said Mr Tatchell.

LGBT human rights abuses disqualify the city of Abuja

In August, the Nigerian gay human rights campaigner, Davis Mac-Iyalla, led a delegation which met Mike Hooper, Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation, at the CGF headquarters in Piccadilly, London. The delegation urged the CGF to reject Abjua as the 2014 host city on the grounds of Nigeria's poor human rights record towards LGBT people and other Nigerian citizens.

Nigeria's anti-LGBT policies:

Peter Tatchell reports:

"In many Nigerian states, the maximum penalty for sex between mutually consenting adult men in private is 14 years in prison. In states that have introduced Sharia law, it is death by stoning.

"According to our LGBT activist colleagues in Nigeria, homophobic violence has increased dramatically, in the wake of attacks on gay people by the Anglican Church of Nigeria and attempts by the Nigerian government to introduce sweeping new anti-gay laws.

"New homophobic legislation was put to the Nigerian parliament last year. It would have banned same-sex marriage, gay organisations and churches, safer sex advice for gay men, and the advocacy of gay human rights.

"Backed by the Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, the anti-gay bill only failed because it ran out of legislative time when the elections were called earlier this year.

"Nigeria is a very threatening, intimidating place for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

"There will be many lesbian and gay athletes, officials, spectators and reporters at the Commonwealth Games in 2014. They would have risked arrest and violence if the Games had gone ahead in Abuja.

"If it wants to host the Commonwealth Games in the future, the Nigerian government should act swiftly to scrap its anti-gay laws and crackdown on homophobic hate crime in order to ensure that the country is a safe, welcoming place for gay and lesbian participants. Without these changes, Nigeria is not a suitable country in which to hold the games," said Mr Tatchell. – Issued by Outrage!

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