Yesterday evening I joined members of Nigerian LGBTIs in the Diaspora Against Anti-Same-Sex Laws outside Nigeria House in Northumberland Avenue at their Kiss-in against Nigeria’s bid to criminalise same-sex marriage. The protest was organised by the group’s Nigerian coordinator, Yemisi Ilesanmi with Davis Mac-Iyalla of Changing Attitude Nigeria as a gesture of defiance against the proposed ban on same-sex marriage and in solidarity with Nigerian LGBTI brothers and sisters.
Stephen Wariebi of CAN, now resident in the UK, and Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights lobby, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, were amongst the demonstrators. We gathered initially on the pavement outside Nigeria House where staff were engaged in conversation while the two police delegated to contain us tried to move us across the road to the approved demo area.
Nigerians who walked past stopped to ask why we were there. All were unaware of the bill and said that it would fail. A reporter interviewed various demonstrators for BBC radio and a reporter with a hand held webcam interviewed me about Biblical attitudes.
The Nigerian Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill seeks to outlaw same-sex marriage. It stipulates three years jail for a person who enters into a same-sex marriage, and five years jail plus fines for anyone who “witnesses, abet and aids” a same-sex marriage.
Yemisi said the new Nigerian bill aims to further criminalise same sex relationships. Already, consensual same-sex conduct between adults is a criminal offence carrying up to 14 years imprisonment and in some parts of the country there is the death penalty under Sharia law.”Lawmakers are fast tracking the bill. The bill has already passed its second reading.
Peter Tatchell said the proposed new law violates the equality and non-discrimination guarantees of Article 42 of the Nigerian Constitution and Articles 2 and 3 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, which Nigeria has signed and pledged to uphold.
Nigerian Constitution – Article 42
42. (1) A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:-
(a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject;
African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights – Articles 2 and 3
Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, color, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status.
1. Every individual shall be equal before the law. 2. Every individual shall be entitled to equal protection of the law.