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?