Nigeria bids to criminalise same-sex marriage
New law violates Nigerian constitution and international human rights law
London, USA and Abuja – 18 October 2011
Following failed attempts in 2006 and 2008, Nigerian lawmakers are resurrecting a version of a widely condemned anti-homosexuality bill, now entitled: “An Act to Prohibit Marriage between Persons of Same Gender, Solemnization Of Same And For Other Matters Related Therewith”.
Read the bill here:
“The new Nigerian bill aims to further criminalise same sex relationships and marriage,” said Nigerian Yemisi Ilesanmi, coordinator of the campaign: Nigerian LGBT in Diaspora Against Same Sex Laws.
“Lawmakers are fast tracking the bill. The bill has already passed its second reading. A public hearing is scheduled for Monday 31 October, 2011. However, there are concerns within the Nigerian LGBT community that the recent bomb blasts in the country would be used as a pretext to deny public access to the hearing.
“Under Nigeria’s criminal code and penal code, consensual same sex conduct between adults is already a criminal offence carrying up to 14 years imprisonment and in some parts of the country, the death penalty under Sharia law.
“The proposed bill violates fundamental human rights that are guaranteed under the Nigerian constitution and various human rights international agreements that Nigeria is a signatory to.
“This bill would lead to harassment of people for their actual or imputed sexual orientation. It would also stifle freedom of expression and association through the proposed ban on organizations that support lesbian and gay rights.
“The passing of the bill would give official validation to the harassment of sexual minorities and many homophobic persons would use it as a license to discriminate against lesbians and gays,” said Ms Ilesanmi.
The bill states –
1.–(1) Marriage Contract entered between persons of same Gender is hereby prohibited in Nigeria.
(3) Marriage Contract entered between persons of same gender by virtue a certificate issued by a foreign country shall be void in Nigeria, and any benefits accruing there from by virtue of the certificate shall not be enforced by any court of law in Nigeria.” It further states: “Same Gender Marriage” means the coming together of persons of the same sex with the purpose of leaving together as husband and wife or for other purposes of same sexual relationship.” http://www.nass.gov.ng/nass/legislation2.php?search=marriage+&Submit=Search
Nigerians and Allies Speak Out Against the Bill
Some human rights organizations in Nigeria have condemned the bill, The Coalition for the Defense of Sexual Rights in its press statement said: “We wish to remind the parliament that, Nigeria is a secular state. Therefore, implicating that laws of our land cannot and should not be drafted and/or enact on the basis of religious and cultural value. This value already differ as Nigeria is a heterogeneous society, hence our federal system of government.”
Women Advocates Research and Documentation Center argues that: ”the bill violates the fundamental rights guaranteed under Nigerian law and other regional and international human rights norms signed and adopted by Nigeria, people must have a right to be who they want to be ! There are other pressing issues that the government should focus on than a discriminatory law of this nature!”
International Center on Advocacy on Rights to Health (ICARH) stated: “LGBTI Rights are Human Rights. Let us stand up for Equal Rights.”
A petition was created by Yemisi Ilesanmi, Coordinator of the campaign Nigerian LGBT in Diaspora Against Same Sex Laws – Link to the petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/nigeria-stop-the-anti-same-sex-marriage-bill-decriminalize-same-sex-love
Justice for Gay Africans, a UK-based collaborative of activists, artists, and academics wrote on the petition: “Please sign this all… it is essential to make sure we use the democratic access we have to affect how our communities are governed”
John Adewoye, a Nigerian in USA wrote: “I am gay, not a criminal”
Davis Mac-Iyalla a Nigeria born Gay/Human Rights Defender based in London said, “Homosexuality is currently illegal in Nigeria, this bill if passed will lead to increased arrests and abuse of anyone suspected to be gay. It’s my nature to be Gay so stop using the law to oppress me and my nature.”
Rowland Jide Macaulay, a Christian Theologian and Founder of House of Rainbow Fellowship an inclusive Christian organisation, wrote: “I am Gay, Proud Nigerian, my family love me and we love our nation. This bill will not only criminalise gays and lesbian, it will dehumanise and break up families.”
The Nigerian LGBT community, with international support, has been successful in quashing this bill twice, but now needs international support to throw out this bill once and for all.
In its latest international newsletter, the UK trade union, UNISON, wrote:
“The proposed bill violates fundamental human rights that are guaranteed under the Nigerian constitution and numerous human rights international agreements that Nigeria has ratified. The passing of the bill would legitimize the rampant incidences of homosexual-targeted hate crimes that occur in Nigeria. It would also give official validation to the social and political harassment of sexual minorities. UNISON denounces this attempt to curtail basic human rights within the LGBT community and their allies. We are asking members to please sign this petition urging the Nigerian government to decriminalize same sex relationships, stop the proposed bill and uphold the fundamental human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Nigeria.
Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights lobby, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, wrote: “This proposed new law violates the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and other international human rights laws that Nigeria has signed and pledged to uphold.”
Full link to the petition:
Quotes from Nigerian Law-makers supporting the Bill
The sponsor of the bill, Senator Domingo Obende, in his lead debate observed: “Even the Muslim religion forbids it, Christianity forbids it and the African traditional religion forbids it.” He argued that “The legalization of same sex marriage in our country will make the next generation never to recover from the law of committed God fearing family. Same sex marriage is spreading and spreading round the whole world just like pornography and terrorism which has become the order of the day if not arrested on time.”
Senator Victor Lar in his argument stated: “The essence of marriage is for procreation and if we allow same sex there will be no procreation and continuity and we may become the last set of senators and no others to take over from us. I want to say that anybody who is brought up as a proper African and who believes in the existence of a supreme being should condemn this same sex marriage and pass this bill expeditiously.”
George Thompson Sekibo argued that. “The purpose of marriage according to the Bible is to replenish the earth, to procreate. If we permit marriage to be carried out between man and man or between woman and woman, the essence of that Biblical injunctions will not be in existence again, instead of replenishing the earth, instead of bringing up people that will serve the biblical injunctions, which is the main purpose of our creation, we will be reducing the earth. In the book of Leviticus, it says that if a man lays with a beast he should be stoned to death and if a man lays with a man he should also be stoned to death, that means that it is a very strong law. So, I stand to support this bill that our country should not be allowed to practice it at all even if to mention it in a public because it is a taboo.”
Senator Emmanuel Bwacha argued that “Going by the legacies bequeathed this nation by our fore fathers, there would have not been any need to be standing here and debating this bill but developments in the other parts of the world have made it necessary for issues like this. From all indications, both the Christian and Muslim religions abhor same sex marriage. It is simply a desecration of our cultural and traditional values. We are found of copying values from the West in the name of modernity. It is really unthinkable to see a man say this is my wife when he is talking about a fellow man. We must quickly speak out because this culture is quickly creeping into our tradition. These are things we never thought of before but because of the changing times we must stand firm against them. So, I stand in support of this bill that we must stand firm against the same sex marriage.”
Senator Oluremi Tinubu in her support of the bill stated “As earlier said, the family is the bedrock of every society and if we allow same sex marriage there will be so much confusion not only to our children but the society at large. Same sex is wrong morally, it is wrong religiously but at the same time we have a lot to offer our children. One is to make sure that we live as good examples to them, we show them the joy of marriage. I wholeheartedly support this bill but at the same time every member of this society has to do something for this generation and if we look at it medically at old age it turns to mental problems for those of them that engage in this act. Same sex marriage is totally wrong and it is confusing our children.”
Senator Robert Ajayi Borofice observed “I want to make a new argument and this is biological. One of the things required in marriage is cultivation where the male sex cell and female sex cell come together to generate a new individual and in the process a lot of biological changes take place to define what comes out and that is what gives us a better new generation. So, anything that encourages marriage of same sex will not only terminate the process of producing better and more sociable, intellectual generation to face the challenges of our environment. People who are involved in either homo-sexuality or lesbianism have argued that it is their gene that introduces them to this social deviant behaviour, but we also know that alcoholism also has some genetic contents and that criminality also has some genetic inputs, society has not gone to legalise either alcoholism or criminality. So, on the basis of this I am supporting the bill that marriage of same sex should be prohibited.”
The Nigeria LGBT in Diaspora against Anti Same Sex Laws is an independent campaign body comprising of Nigerian LGBT individuals and organisations in diaspora to protest criminalization of same sex relationship in Nigeria.
Coordinator – Nigerian LGBT in Diaspora Against Anti Same Sex Laws
Davis Mac-Iyalla – email@example.com
John Adewoye- firstname.lastname@example.org