Nigeria anti-gay law faces global rebuke despite much local support
British lawmakers will consider a motion to block a prisoner transfer agreement between the UK and Nigeria that was signed last month. Just days after the agreement was inked, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a harsh anti-gay law that criminalizes same sex relationships. British Labour MP John McDonnell says prisoner exchanges between the two countries should be blocked to protect “the safety and security of individuals transferred under the agreement given the current level of discrimination against LGBT people in Nigeria.” FSRN’s Samuel Okocha is in Lagos, where this week he found few vocal opponents of the law among many who support the measure.
In January this year, Nigeria approved legislation that makes homosexuality a crime. The anti gay law stipulates a 14-year prison sentence for anyone entering a same-sex union and a 10-year term for a person or group of persons who support the registration and operation of gay clubs, organizations, processions or meetings. The law also criminalizes public displays of affection by gay men and lesbians.
“The law is a nice one because homosexuality, or gay marriage, is not part of our life. We didn’t grow it, we didn’t know it, we see it as abomination… something forbidden.”
“I don’t support the law that makes homosexuality a crime, because you are not supposed to be put under law to be able to correct your natural habits. I believe it is a waste of time. They don’t have much to do that’s why they are banning things that we should tale care of by our own personal habits.”
“I am in support of that law because [unclear] same-sex of any kind is not religiously accepted and health-wise it has its own implications.”
“I am for the law. We love it, that is what the Nigerians want.”
“The anti-gay law is simply malicious. Becasue whether you are straight or gay it doesn’t hurt the next person. I just think its simply malicious and probably they are trying to blindfold Nigerians, taking attention away from more pressing issues like the corrupt practices going on in higher echelon of government and, you know, putting it on things that, as far as I’m concerned, are not consequential enough to warrant the attention of the National Assembly.”
Samuel Ockocha, FSRN, Lagos.