How new Nigerian law may impact LGB&T rights in the country

Nigeria’s new law on Freedom of Information (FOI) may impact positively on LGBT rights advocacy in the country. The law will address the situation of corruption and promote good governance, which is a foundation for the protection of fundamental human rights.

LGB&T rights activists could leverage on the provision of the new law to improve on their research and documentation of human rights violations on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. Records of discrimination especially those perpetrated by state actors can be required by any Nigerian citizen without demonstrating specific interest in the information.

Section 2 provides that: “(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act but notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act, Law or Regulation, every citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has a legally enforceable right to, and shall, on application be given access to any record under the control of a government or public institution.

(2) An applicant herein need not demonstrate specific interest in the information being applied for.

(3) For the purpose of this Act, any record applied for under this Act that does not exist in print but can by regulation be produced from a machine, normally used by the government or public institution shall be deemed to be record under the control of the Government or public institution.”

This law seeks to provide a right of access to public information or records kept by government, public institution or private bodies carrying out public functions for citizens and non-citizens of the country. Furthermore it will increase the availability of public records and information to citizens of the country in order to participate more effectively in the making and administration of laws and policies and to promote accountability of public officers.

The Bill, which was signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan on June 2, 2011, spent about 11 years in the National Assembly. The law would not have seen the light of day without the persistent advocacy of media groups and other civil society organizations.

Before it passage into law, the bill saw relentless advocacy at the domestic and regional level mostly at the sessions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Comments

  1. daniel ugochukwu says

    After reading this article I still don’t understand how the passage of the foi is going to help the cause of the lgbt community in nigeria. I don’t agree that the law will aid civil/gay rights advocacy in anyway. On the contrary,in a country like nigeria were discrimination of gay people is prevalent it is possible that this law could be used to withc hunt those who are still in the closet. In another country were respect for the rights of individuals and their rights to choose their sexuality is observed,the passage of the freedom of information bill into law would have been a great thing for the lgbt community in that country. But not nigeria. For nigeria and its lgbt community,it is not yet uhuru.

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