||Gabriel ADEYEMO [ profile ]
Nigeria: Tightening the noose on gay rights
Nov 22nd, 2011 - 06:22:14
My fellow Advocates, what shall we do to these things??
Rights groups in Nigeria fear a same-sex marriage bill being discussed in
parliament could boost already prevalent discrimination against
homosexuals. The bill goes much further than banning same-sex marriage; it
threatens to ban the formation of groups supporting homosexuality, with
imprisonment for anyone who "witnesses, abet or aids" same-gender
relationships, and could lead to any discussion or activities related to
gay rights being banned...
The National Assembly began debating the latest version of the Same Sex
Marriage (Prohibition) Bill in November. Most high-ranking officials have
voiced their approval of the bill, signaling it is likely to pass. Analysts
see the bill, which has been shelved twice in five years, as a potential
boost to the popularity of a government whose approval ratings have stalled
since elections in April this year. Most Nigerians strongly disapprove of
homosexuality, with many seeing it as a foreign import at odds with a
deeply religious society.
A 2008 survey by non-profit, Nigeria's Information for Sexual and
Reproductive Rights, of 6,000 Nigerians on their attitudes to
homosexuality, found that only 1.4 percent of respondents said they felt
"tolerant" towards sexual minorities...
Leaders of Nigeria's main religions - Islam and Christianity - rarely
promote tolerance of homosexuality, according to Damian Ugwu, a rights
activist at the Lagos-based Social Justice Advocacy Initiative... "The
church has zero tolerance for homosexuality. The only time they will accept
someone being homosexual is if they come to 'confess' and 'repent' of it,
to say they are cured so they can be forgiven."
Fear of "coming out" also means many homosexuals - who are at high risk of
HIV - are unable to access medical services or receive adequate treatment,
as they give incomplete personal information, activists say... NGOs and
activists say the bill could have serious implications even for people who
aren't gay... "It's going to give the Nigerian police, who are already
known for abusing their power, a license to violate the rights of both gay
and non-gay people. It's going to create an avenue where young men and
women, who often live together in big cities for financial reasons, will
become targets for extortion," Ugwu said. "This is an insidious bill that
appears to be limited to same-gender marriage, but is actually an attack on
basic rights," said Human Rights Watch spokesperson Graeme Reid.
"The definition of 'same-gender marriage' is so broad as to include anyone
even suspected of being in a same-sex relationship. And it threatens human
rights defenders by targeting people who support unpopular causes."...
Yours' in Prevention Science
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