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Ramon Johnson

What Nigeria's New Law Means for Gays and Lesbians

By June 5, 2013

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International audiences are not shocked, but more appauled at Nigeria's decision to move forward with a law that punishes gay and lesbian citizens for their sexuality.

Under a new law passed unanimously by Nigeria's House of Representatives, individuals found guilty of same-sex relationships, and those supporting them, could face up to 14 years in prison. It is unclear what the law seeks to accomplish other than the advancement of a moral agenda that further alienates the nation from the international community.

While it is good for Nigeria to declare power over its own direction, without succombing to international pressures, the gesture comes at the expence of its own people. But this may be overcomplicating a law rooted in a fundamental cultural belief: that sexuality is a choice. So while global gay activists declare Nigeria's anti-gay laws human rights violations, the bill is likely to maintain majority support from local populations.

What's particularly troubling about the law is that by design it encites a witch hunt of gay and lesbian citizens and advances a systematic homophobia throughout the region. Anyone found in support of a gay or lesbian person faces the same jail term. The bill exacerbates a situation where a nation already rampant with discrimination against same gender loving people has criminalized a much needed system of support.

Some like gay rights activist Rashidi Williams fear that the new law will lead to blackmail, extortion and threats within local communities. "People who have jobs would be sacked from their positions once their sexual orientation or gender identity gets known to their employers," Williams tells allAfrica.com.

What's your opinion on Nigeria's jail the gays law? What recourse do gay and lesbian Nigerians have against a government that has criminalized their lives?
June 6, 2013 at 1:20 am
(1) Ken says:

Typical African countries, they still live in the dark ages. The west needs to styop funding these countries that treat gay people as such. They are very quick to put their hands out for aid, the West need to definitely stop funding those countries that treat gay people like lepers.

June 9, 2013 at 7:32 pm
(2) Angela says:

Ken, please, spare me your racism. The west is *deeply* entrenched in gay politics in Christian African countries. Where do you think the religion some of these countries fall back on comes from? Who is funding these missionary trips that dangle food in front of hungry people while shoving a bible in their hands? Who do you think is stoking the fires of rampant homophobia? Who do you think is helping to provide back bone of these laws?

American evangelicals have much to blame here. Don’t believe me? Read up on the “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda and see who influenced it.

June 10, 2013 at 3:51 am
(3) Demi says:

Nip that racism right in the ass!

June 12, 2013 at 11:34 am
(4) Rodney Christian says:

Hello, I am a person with dual citizenship in North America and Nigeria due to being born in Maryland but having Nigerian parents. After reading this, I feel a bit lost in trepidation for the time that I come out to my parents and my large family. Over the last few days I have been thinking about scenarios where they could still end up supporting me, but now Nigeria has made it a crime to do so, and now the notion of ensuring they don’t support me exists in my mind lest they be imprisoned.

I don’t know if I can be affected by the anti-gay laws here in Maryland, but their severity are enough to make me consider losing my Nigerian citizenship if I only knew how.

June 12, 2013 at 11:36 am
(5) Derrich says:

I feel bad for them.

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