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LGBTQ: Why Buhari Must Repeal Nigeria Anti-Gay Law Now – By Kemi Asemota

That Nigeria has become a dangerous place to live for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) persons is nothing but a fact. Since 2014 when Nigeria’s former president, Goodluck Jonathan, signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA), criminalizing public displays of affection between same-sex couples and restricting the work of organizations defending gay people and their rights, overzealous Nigerians, religious groups and government security agencies have put sadistic pressure on LGBTQ community in the country.

The oppressive law imposes a 14-year prison sentence on anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union, and a 10-year sentence on individuals or groups, including religious leaders, who witness, abet, and aid the solemnization of a same-sex marriage or union.  It imposes a 10-year prison sentence on those who directly or indirectly make [a] public show of [a] same-sex amorous relationship and anyone who registers, operates, or participates in gay clubs, societies, and organizations, including supporters of those groups.

SSMPA contradicts fundamental freedom…

The SSMPA has taken away the legitimate right of LGBTQ Nigerians, human right activists and many who support the right to live and associate. SSMPA contradicts fundamental freedom under international human rights treaties and standards, which the Nigerian Constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights similarly guarantee. Socially, emotionally and politically, LGBTQ individuals can no longer have a say in how to live in their own country and among their people as they have even been deprived of the natural love of parents and family.

That Nigeria has become a dangerous place to live for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) persons is nothing but a fact.

Living cases abound: This year March, Shalom Shoremi, a Nigerian young lady found love in the arms of a fellow woman and on announcing she was getting married to her lover, her parents and family members promptly and publicly dissociated themselves from her by putting up a paid announcement in national newspaper. She was disowned and cast out of the family for being a lesbian. The couple turned to what they hoped would provide infinite succor and love; religion but that also disappointed. Since no church could marry them they decided to approach the Nigerian judiciary; the supposed custodian of human rights. They were again denied by the Federal Marriage Registry that turned down their request.

LGBTQ: Why Buhari Must Repeal Nigeria Anti-Gay Law Now

MORE CASES ABOUND…

Last month, Forty-seven gay men were arrested for public display of affection. The men were arrested in a police raid on a hotel in a Lagos suburban; Egbeda. Though they pleaded innocent the police said they were being initiated into a gay club but the men claimed to be attending a birthday party.

In July 2017, at club Owode in Lagos, 70 men and boys were arrested by police. The police labeled them gay and extorted them of varying degree of monies before allowing them to go.

And in Abuja , a group of people armed with machetes, clubs, whips, and metal wires dragged people from their homes and severely beat at least 14 men whom they suspected of being gay.

An open gay Nigerian Bisi Alimi who speaks defiantly and brazenly for LGBTQ in Lagos and other parts of the country, had to run for his life to United Kingdom, when living among his own people became increasingly dangerous. He realized he could be mobbed or hacked to death anytime, any day and anywhere by angry anti-gay Nigerians who had labeled him ‘crazy’.

it is rather sad that we could bring ourselves to this level.

Bobrisky, a Nigerian transgender woman and famous social commentator has been verbally and physically assaulted. The police had attempted to arrest her several times.

That is the sorry state of people who are only different in their sexual behavior and it is rather sad that we could bring ourselves to this level.

THE HARASSMENT OF LGBTQ…

Most states in the northern part of the country namely, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara have criminalized LGBTQ relationships under the criminal code and Islamic Sharia laws adopted by the states.

The harassment of gay and gay right activists has gone on for too long. It is sheer discrimination against Nigerians and free born of this country. They are humans too and a level playing field must be provided for all. PMB need to establish and promote effective measures to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

This government must know that LGBTQ community have been denied quality health services in Nigeria, especially in the area of HIV services. There is a need to ensure that gay Nigerians and transgender individuals have access to HIV services, care and treatment.

I also want to call on the Human Rights Commission and Committee of Human Rights Experts to step up to be counted in this matter. One of the key functions vested in national human rights institutions is to receive and investigate complaints of human rights abuses. The commission enjoys quasi-judicial powers to summon persons, evidence, and to award compensation and enforce its decisions. The Commission should utilize this protective mandate to investigate human rights abuses committed against LGBTQ persons and begin by bringing people to justice.

One of the key functions vested in national human rights institutions is to receive and investigate complaints of human rights abuses.

LGBTQ should be seen beyond their sexual desires but as stakeholders who could genuinely help in developing their country by adding their quota.

PMB government has done nothing about LGBTQ rights and at best it is as if they do not exist. It is wishful thinking to wish them away. They are here and here to stay and it is high time PMB rights this wrong against humanity.

 

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