The Coalition for the Defense of Sexual Rights in Nigeria has released the following statement in response to the new law in Nigeria. The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act criminalizes homosexual clubs, associations and organizations, with penalties of up to 14 years in jail, and makes it illegal for gay people to even hold a meeting.
COALITION FOR THE DEFENSE OF SEXUAL RIGHTS – NIGERIA
In view of the recent situation in Nigeria regarding the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill, which appears to have now been signed into law, we the members of Coalition for the Defense of Sexual Rights would implore all Nigerians, media, religious organizations, government agencies and our international partners including foreign ministries to stand with us to repeal this law that does not only seek to criminalize same sex marriage, but bans freedom of association, free speech, access to health by Most at Risk Populations (MARPS), and a wide range of fundamental human rights.
This bill was first introduced in 2006, which we understand has now been signed into law by President Jonathan Goodluck, is a total violation of the fundamental human rights of LGBTI people in Nigeria and is unconstitutional on so many different levels. This law will put the lives of many already vulnerable at further risk.
The Coalition for the Defense of Sexual Rights values the support and contribution of all human rights defenders on this oppressive legislation that not only criminalize LGBTI community and organizations, human rights defenders but any Nigerian that is so labeled in the name of aiding, abetting or supporting gay clubs, associations directly or indirectly. This is a time to come together to strengthen our resolve to fight this obnoxious law which contravenes the ethics and principles of health and human rights.
As a first response to this law, the Coalition has put in place urgent support and security measures to protect members of the community as well as liaise with relevant stakeholders.
The Coalition would encourages takeholders and supporters to contact us for evidence-based data to help them in their media engagement. Although it is hard, we would urge members to refrain from engaging in media activities and issuing statements that may be misinterpreted or cast aspersions on any persons in the Nigerian Government. Whilst fighting to repeal this law, we must do so by drawing attention to the constitution, human rights infringement and it is implication for all Nigerians irrespective of their sexual orientation.
To our international partners and diplomatic missions in Nigeria, the Coalition would encourage you to consult with the Nigerian LGBT community in their interaction with the Presidency and other stakeholders in Nigeria. This is to avoid any advocacy on behalf of the LGBTI community and Most at Risk Populations being perceived as intruding into domestic affairs of Nigeria.
We want to strongly condemn this law in its totality and we seek any form of solidarity and support from our allies, supporters and the media. This law potentially has implications for all Nigerians and it is a matter of human rights and liberty.
We’ll provide more information in due course.
The Coalition, therefore request that our international allies, partners and stakeholders, in their advocacy for the LGBTI community, to:
- Exercise firm but quiet diplomatic action to stop the implementation of the law through private communications and letters to the Nigerian President,Nigerian House of Assembly, the Attorney General and other stakeholders in the Health and Human rights work such as the National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA), The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC);
- Be in touch with their diplomatic missions in Nigeria, their ministries of foreign affairs in their home countries, and any institution or authority that may have relationships with counterparts in Nigeria (both with the government and other stakeholders), and inform them about the current situation and the need to call on the Nigerian government and stakeholder in the Health and Human rights work to denounce such a punitive law which has a wide range and gross implication on the fight against HIV/AIDS and minority rights.
- Engage with their respective governments to ensure that they do not in any way provoke or threaten the Nigerian government in public or private discussion/dialogue on aid cutting, economic sanctions and embargoes.
- Assist the coalition and civil society organizations working on the ground by sharing information regarding the status of the legislation that they are privileged to have, considering that at this stage, information are being restricted for reason we do not know.