Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Nigeria - petition to the President

It still has to be decided by the Nigerian President to make it into law, but has been passed unanimously in the Nigerian parliament. It's become known over there as the "jail the gays" law, and includes measures such as this:
The online petition says that the 'Jail the Gays' bill infringes the human rights of Nigerian LGBTI people and treats them as criminals, not citizens. Groups also accuse the bill of going against the spirit of the Nigerian constitution, which the president swore to uphold.

Yemisi Ilesanmi, the Coordinator of the Nigerian LGBTIs in Diaspora Group, said the president was the only one who could now stop the law. She said the sudden passing of the bill had come as a ‘surprise’ and she had been ‘in shock’ when she first heard the news.

The group are asking the international community to stand in solidarity with them and to support the human rights of Nigerian LGBTI people.
The draconian ‘Jail the Gays’ bill stipulates 14 years in jail for same-sex marriage and 10 years imprisonment for a public show of same-sex affection. The bill also stipulates 10 years in jail for anyone who supports a gay person, witnesses a gay marriage or advocates LGBTI rights. more
Nigerian gays have launched a worldwide petition to the president following the sudden passing of the bill in parliament. You can sign the petition here, from anywhere in the world. I would encourage everyone who cares to do so. From the site: 
Nigerian LGBTIs in diaspora against Anti Same Sex Laws affirms that LGBT rights are Human Rights. As stated in our position paper on the Same Sex marriage Prohibition bill, the homophobic bill violates fundamental human rights that are guaranteed under the Nigerian constitution and various regional and international human rights laws that Nigeria has ratified. Thus this Bill contradicts parts of the Nigerian Constitution. 

The same sex marriage prohibition bill if signed into law would encourage the political and social harassment of people for their actual or imputed sexual orientation. It would also stifle the rights to Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Association through the proposed ban on organizations that support Lesbians and gay rights. 

This draconian bill if signed into law would further affect Nigeria’s Human rights records. Individuals and state institutions including the police force are already using the unsigned bill as a license to intimidate and harass citizens based on their actual or suspected sexual orientation. The passing of this bill gives official validation to the harassment of sexual minorities. 

Sodomy law is a relic from British colonization. The British parliament and many of its former colonies have since repealed the law. Why is Nigeria clinging to this antiquated Sodomy law? Nigerian LGBTIs in Diaspora holds that the argument that any sexual act or relationship that deviates from the standard heterosexual norm is against African culture is using “culture” to sanction the erasure of dialogue about alternative sexualities and to condone homophobia, therefore constituting a form of cultural violence. A society that stifles sexual and gender identities discourages the recognition of human dignity. sign here

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