Queer Alliance issues this statement on behalf of those we represent to present and voice our concerns against the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2011
We like to note that the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is built on one principle – secularism and not religious indoctrination. The contents of the bill as amended over time are an assault on the lives and rights of sexual minorities and all Nigerians with strong religious overtone. The becoming of law of this bill is of grave consequences to our nation, as we recently witnessed the mob killing of four men in Port Harcourt. This could extend to killings and mob actions on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
At this point in the history of our country, it is important to note that we are going through a period in which the decisive support for the rule of law, principles of freedom, artistic and intellectual expression, association, religious liberty, dignity of the Human Person, freedom from discrimination of all sorts, fight against corruption and violence, an open society and the respect, protection and fulfillment of the rights of all Nigerians have become an absolute necessity.
We, lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans people are not the problem of this nation. There are many other issues of national concern that needs to be concentrated on rather than the debate of incarcerating innocent citizens simply because of a dilemma they cannot overcome. Sexuality is God’s gift to humankind and homosexuality is a natural, abiding, normal sexuality for some people. It existed within the shores of our nation before colonial invasion and its subsequent criminalization.
As citizens of the this country, we remind the government and our lawmakers that the private lives of citizens are not grounds for debates and criminal legislations – save this private affairs and lives inflict harm on other people and infringes on the fundamental human rights accorded to every Nigerian as captioned and protected under Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution.
The connections between discriminatory and repressive laws and attitudes of people have meant that violence on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity will increase with the passage of the bill. No one is calling attention to these crimes. The institutionalization of homophobia by the state- which is the hallmark of this bill contradicts the Constitution, especially the clause on the right to the human dignity, life and security, peaceful assembly and association amongst other rights enshrined in the 199 constitution.
From all indications this bill is filled with hatred and will incite violence towards an indefensible group of people already marginalized by the society, its laws and policies. Existing provisions of the Criminal Code, Section 214, 215 and 217 has promoted hatred, intolerance and homophobia in the society. It should not be sponsored by the government of ant democratic society any further. Additional punitive legislation will not solve the issues; rather violence will increase towards a group of indefensible people, slighted by the laws of their own nation. This is very evident in the torture of four female students in one of the university in the south-south geopolitical zone of the country on the grounds of lesbianism. Innua Yakubu was murdered by his own classmates in 2002 in Jigawa on grounds of his sexual orientation.
As a community of innocent and law abiding citizen, we distance ourselves from this notion of Same Sex Marriages that has saturated our airwaves since 2006. Our cry is that of respect, tolerance, acceptance and equality.
Nigeria is a signatory to International laws and Covenants that protects from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. We therefore, urge you to use your esteemed offices in protecting the rights of every Nigeria by shunning this bill which tendency to inciting violence is high if passed into law. Nigeria needs live up to the expectations and standards as a member of the United Nations.
We strongly advocate that bills such as the Elimination of Violence in the society which will give protection both to the rich and poor, strong and vulnerable – everyone living on the Nigerian soil be passed into law. And that bills with the potential to fuel hatred, violence and intolerance towards a particular population be shunned and reject by your esteemed offices.
Queer Alliance calls on you and indeed every Nigerian to lend a voice and a hand in the support for equality for all Nigerians regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. And that in times like this, Nigerian can live up to the hallmarks of her national anthem: to build a nation where peace and justice shall reign.
Queer Alliance Nigeria