News / Africa

Nigerian Activists Decry Impact of New Anti-Gay Measure

FILE - Abosede Oladayo, an AIDS activist living with HIV, speaks during an event to mark World Aids Day at the U.S. Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria, Dec. 2, 2011. Groups fighting AIDS warned Jan. 14, 2014, that a new Nigerian law criminalizing same-sex marriage, gay organizations will harm anti-AIDS efforts.
FILE - Abosede Oladayo, an AIDS activist living with HIV, speaks during an event to mark World Aids Day at the U.S. Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria, Dec. 2, 2011. Groups fighting AIDS warned Jan. 14, 2014, that a new Nigerian law criminalizing same-sex marriage, gay organizations will harm anti-AIDS efforts.
Heather Murdock
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has signed a law that makes gay marriage in Nigeria punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Activists say the law will have disastrous consequences for the gay community and beyond. Political analysts say the popular law will be a gain for the president, whose ruling party is going through severe internal struggles ahead of the 2015 elections.  
On Monday morning, it was illegal to be gay in Nigeria. By Monday night, gay marriage had become illegal, along with being a member of a gay organization - a crime that could mean up to 10 years in prison.  
Ifeanyi Kelly Orazulike is a rights activist and one of the few people in Nigeria who has spoken out against the law. He said the law may be intended to target gays, but it may harm others as well.
For example, he said, gay men in Nigeria have a high HIV infection rate - 17 percent - and the law will keep some some men from getting treatment out of fear.  

For others, no treatment will be available.
“Organizations providing services for them, according to the bill, will have to shut down. And some of them also are married. Some of them have girlfriends. And some of these women will definitely get married and bear children,” said Orazulike.

Swift criticism

The new law was quickly criticized by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who said it "dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association and expression for all Nigerians."   
In contrast with many Western nations, anti-gay sentiment is common across much of Africa and this new law is popular among Nigerians.

A sampling of public opinion vividly illustrates this prevalent attitude.
“I feel highly delighted and very grateful to God above all because it is a line in the right direction,” said one person in Abuja.
“I support the federal government because this thing is against the two religions. It’s very, very, very bad,” said another.
“Actually it is the right thing. They were supposed to have done it even before. It was supposed to have been even in our constitution,” said still another person.
Nigerian lawmakers have been kicking around a version of this law for years, and last May the bill was passed by the national assembly. Jonathan signed the bill last week, a move that was made public on Monday.

Several Western countries have slammed the law, including Britain, which has threatened to withdraw aid from African countries with anti-gay legislation.
Analysts say the timing of this bill is notable, as 2015 elections approach and the president’s popularity appears to be declining.  
Abubakar Kari, a political science lecturer at the University of Abuja, said gay rights are not a pressing issue for most Nigerians - the majority of whom live in abject poverty - although it is one issue upon which most citizens agree.
“Both Muslims and Christians appear to be overwhelmingly opposed to gay rights. And therefore the president also hopes to achieve some political mileage,” said Kari.

Charges of political pandering

He said the president also may have signed the bill to distract the public from the controversy surrounding the ruling party, as high-level members defect, some to a new and formidable opposition party.
On Twitter, angry opponents of the law are calling for protests, while supporters of the law are calling on the West to stop interfering with Nigerian culture.  
Activists in Nigeria say they haven’t yet decided how, but say they will fight for the repeal of the law. Orazulike said, in the meantime, anyone who is gay, supports gay rights or provides services like HIV treatment for gay men is in danger.
“What if someone who doesn’t like me on the streets can go and call the police to come and arrest me? And I’ll be jailed,” said Orazulike.

Most gay people in Nigeria hide their sexuality or live in constant fear of attacks or being abandoned by their families and friends.
When asked if he considers leaving Nigeria to protect himself, Orazulike said he can’t go because with the gay population almost entirely in hiding, someone needs to give them a voice.
Ibrahima Yakubu contributed to this report from Kaduna.

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: mike ochili from: portharcourt
January 24, 2014 9:02 PM
Those who are against the prevention guy in nigeria are the perpetrators of the act or crime themselves. Guy marriage is an evil thought and any one who is engage in it is an evil person. I support the punishment melted out for this offense.

by: oji from: kaduna
January 22, 2014 12:03 AM
this LGBT stuff is demonic and inhuman. S/AFRICA has legalised it. check out how HIV/AIDS is ravaging that country. Moreover we all know how HIV/AIDS started. It was from th e gay community.

by: ebuzor bright from: Thailand
January 19, 2014 2:50 AM
Homosexuality is an abomination which death is the only just punishment as it were in the old bible testament because it is out of the nature.why is there no such taboo among every other livingthings except highly demonized humans.therefore with utmost commitment we Nigerian absolutely forbid such evil and abuse to God our hell with any help Britain and any country think could force us to callously say the fact Britain has done more evil than good to us,they should leave us alone to do our things in the way that please God.

by: moses from: lagos
January 17, 2014 11:52 AM
You are wrong! There is no decry here but kudos to our presdent. West you brought christianity to us and we aaccepted it, not because we were force but it was a faith of reason and justificaton. You newly invented 'sex life' is an abuse of human right, t is barbaric, and it is unacceptable to us. I would rather advice you force technology on us!

by: Adam from: Florida
January 16, 2014 4:03 AM
Look, you can disagree with gay marriage, but locking people up just for being gay?

Where does it end? Killing them?

We've gone down this road before people. Don't go down it again.

by: Shima Gyoh from: Nigeria
January 15, 2014 3:36 PM
Homosexuality is not a matter of culture; it is just the way the brains of some people mature with inverted sexual orientation, when men feel sexual attraction to other men, and women to other women. Family and environmental circumstances have very little if any influence on this phenomenon. It is one of the naturally occurring variations in nature. The fact is that the people affected cannot change their sexual orientation, just like you cannot change your height no matter how hard you tried.
For a long time, it used to be thought it was a crime, and laws were made to punish the people affected, but about 60 years ago, knowledge of human development made the enlightened world realise that it was a frequent variation in nature. Even the medical world at first thought it was a mental disease and methods of treatment, called abreaction were painful and nasty attempts to “cure” the affected people. The medical world soon realised that no amount of torture could change this deep-seated nature, which happens to be the way the Creator had constructed these minds.
The people affected by this condition did not deliberately cultivate it; it is the way God made them, to use normal language. Outlawing homosexuality is equivalent to passing a law that being shorter than 5 feet is now a crime! It amounts to condemning to life suffering some people for being who or what they are. It is an unjust discrimination, which no enlightened or kind person should tolerate, no matter how squirmy they feel about it. For those who might want to know the source of my information, I am a medical professional primarily interested in the physical and mental welfare of the human being. I have conducted an unsuccessful campaign to stop this legislation, and will continue to plead with my compatriots to tolerate people who have a different but non-criminal nature.
Shima Gyoh
In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
January 16, 2014 4:56 AM
I understand your position. It has been disclosed that gay taste is possibly caused by some disorders in the process of fertilization and production with genetic changes of embryo. It is not gay people's crime. Good luck Shima Gyoh!

by: MillicentBruce from: Nigeria
January 15, 2014 11:50 AM
Well,I personally think that most of you are definitely wrong thinking that "GAY" is an American or European culture.It's something that's part of quite a lot of people in the world all over.There are still people that are GAY in Nigeria til this day.I find this law passed out to be very unfair to the gays.They should have equal rights just like everybody else.It doesn't matter if you're straight or gay,at the end of the day you;re still a human being and you deserve equal rights.

Nigeria's anti-gay policy is very stupid if you ask me.The gays should be set free to do whatever they want without discrimination.That is what I personally believe would be the best solution to this situation.I mean,criminalizing GAY would be like criminalizing Albinos,blue eyes,big noses and other things that you are not the fault of a particular person.

The GAYS are in love with the same-sex which is definitely not their fault.They were born that way and they deserve to live that way.If you can not deal with seeing GAYS then you look the other way.At the end of the day,I'm only saying that Nigeria should allow the GAYS to have freedom of expression.They may not legalize the GAY MARRIAGE but at least they should legalize same-sex activity and anti-discrimination against gays.Thank you.
In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
January 17, 2014 6:53 AM
You want to convince me that they were born that way and have no control over it, if this were so, why is it on the increase in USA and Europe recently? Why is it that now about 60% of Hollywood celebrities "have gone gay"? Why is this sex thing so elaborately discussed and celebrated since it is a natural thing; why has it taken the center stage in celebrities' lives, USA and Britain? Since sex and sexuality are private things, what has brought the discussion of sex to the open to be debated openly?

In the first place, it is the campaign by some powers trying to force it on to people that have engendered the fear leading to banning it. If you kept it in its place, there would be no debate about it. You brought it out to be debated, and the NAY carried it, must you force a country to accept what the majority reject? The good you do to yourself is keep quiet about it - if you say you were born with it, and don't disturb people about it because you want to be seen as the happening people.

If you must know, the world is wary of the incursion of the American Illuminati cult that is propagating this behavioral aberration. And we know that they don't mean well for the ordinary people, much less the belief and worship of God. So it is born out of the desire to antagonize God by the American cultists. period. Their target is to thwart, reject and deny the existence of GOD. It is the era of the coming of the antichrist. Watch out for the mark 666 in it!

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
January 15, 2014 7:12 AM
Nigeria is an African country and thus should be respected for its opinions and choices it makes for itself and its citizens. To say an unknown activist group decries a law made in the country is to say Nigeria should once again return to the slavery days. The West cannot be carrying out freedom projects in the continent and at the same want to subjugate the continent once again by infiltration of alien cultures. Even if that has to be, freedom means countries are allowed to do their own things their own way, not doing American and European things in Africa in American and European ways. That is wrong. Africans don't want that kind of acculturation. While Africa, nay Nigeria does not restrict anyone who wants to go gay, the West should open its doors to accommodate them while those who feel the practice out there is not good for them should make their way to Africa. Don't force us to be like you, after all you have not forced your technology on us, why gay marriage?
In Response

by: Plain Mirror Intl from: Plain Planet - Africa
January 17, 2014 9:10 AM
Thank you Godwin my brother! I could feel an epidemic of Ghost pimples all over my body as I read the undiluted truth and revelation that you made known. Those who have ears, let them hear! The US satanic conspiracy ushering in the Beast, the Anti-christ and its Blasphemous leadership is determined to ruin the world using the so called democracy, human rights and freedom of expression to bring the final doom to man-kind. "From the begining, God created man and his fellow man to marry, and God brought out a rib of Adam and created another Adam that made it possible that Man can have sexual attraction for the fellow man and vice versa". This is the Blasphemous expression of the Anti-Christ, the illuminatti, the Berphomet- the god of the world celebrities, law makers, elites and the ruling class. The possesive and initiative power of Illuminatti is waxing strong, and that is what we are seing today.

As for you Ifeanyi Kelly Orazulike, you are a Nigerian and you know Nigeria very well, as you Activize, watch your back for jungle justice is ready waiting in the streets of Nigeria for people who want to bring and promote irritating and dirty cultures and behaviors in the society. I trust Nigerians, they would help the government very well here- very capable of handling the justice even before the government's eyes and hands get to the wild beasts.

Long live President of the people Goodluck Eberechukwu Jonathan! Long live my good and no no-sense people of Nigeria.
In Response

by: Anderson
January 15, 2014 12:42 PM
What aid to you think you're giving to Nigeria, a rich, oil-producing nation? Besides, aid given to countries is nothing more than a bribe to force western policies on the world. Aid rarely gets to those who need it.

The Bible and Koran say homosexuality is a sin. Therefore, Nigeria is correct to persecute this act, while the west that is supposed to be more advanced is utterly wrong.
In Response

by: jeff from: usa
January 15, 2014 11:17 AM
True, I just feel that if West Africa does not share our Human Rights beliefs, than we should just stop giving them Aid.

by: joel from: mutare
January 15, 2014 4:39 AM
should be mo than that 40

by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
January 15, 2014 3:11 AM
President Goodluck Jonathan signed this anti-gay bill into law to gain solely political mileage from both Christian and Muslim fanatics in Nigeria. The government should be dealing with national pressing issues such as poverty, education etc., not regulating the conducts by consenting adults behind their closed doors. No one should be allowed to disrespect gay community on the basis of religion morality, because barbarism is religion borne morality not homosexual.
In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
January 15, 2014 7:00 AM
Since it is such a closed door affair, why is it so openly and elaborately portrayed these days as if all life depends on it? Why has gay marriage become yardstick by which USA and Europe measure progress everywhere in the world? Why has gay issue become a sine qua non in world affairs that if not recognized a country is termed anything but friendly with the west? What is this thing about gay issues that makes it loom larger than life in USA and Europe? You win election in USA (hell) by supporting gay marriage, you lose election in Nigeria (Africa) by supporting same sex marriage - different strokes for different folks, Ok?
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