Anti-Gay Law Takes Effect in Africa’s Most Populous Country

Dozens have reportedly been arrested the day after Nigeria's president signed legislation criminalizing homosexuality

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Sunday Alamba / AP

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan visits Koluama 2 village, in Nigeria, on Feb. 27, 2012.

One day after Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed legislation criminalizing homosexuality, police reportedly began rounding up gay men in Africa‘s most populous country.

On Monday, Jonathan signed the bill, which was passed by the national assembly in May, and contains harsh penalties for homosexual activity and membership in gay rights groups. “Persons who enter into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union commit an offence and are each liable on conviction to a term of 14 years in prison,” the law says. “Any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison.”

The law is popular among Nigerians, a country where sodomy is already illegal. Under the country’s criminal code, elements of which date back to British colonial times, homosexual conduct falls under “Offenses Against Morality” and a person who “has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” can be imprisoned. “This is a law that is in line with the people’s cultural and religious inclination,” Jonathan’s spokesman Reuben Abati told the AP. “Nigerians are pleased with it.”

Under the new law, same-sex “amorous relationships” are banned, as is membership in gay rights groups, prohibitions that have sparked both fear and defiance among Nigeria’s gay activists. The government “have just legalized violence, stigma and discrimination,” a gay man in Lagos, who asked not to be identified for his safety, told AFP. “Our situation has gone from bad to worse.” The man said that he particularly feared for LGBT people in majority-Muslim northern Nigeria, a region that is administered partly under Islamic law.

In Bauchi State, in northern Nigeria, police have reportedly arrested dozens of gay men in the past few weeks. The AP reports that police targeted gay men, tortured them into naming others, and are hunting more gay men down. Chairman Mustapha Baba Ilela of Bauchi state Shariah Commission, which oversees Islamic law in the state, told the AP that 11 men had been arrested and denies that torture was involved. Ilela said that members of the community helped “fish out” suspected gay men and the roundups will continue. “We are on the hunt for others,” he said.

Criticism of the law from outside Nigeria was swift. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the United States was deeply concerned by the measure. “Beyond even prohibiting same sex marriage, this law dangerously restricts freedom of assembly … and expression for all Nigerians,” he said in a statement. U.N. human rights commissioner Navi Pillay blasted the law for “making an already bad situation worse” by potentially causing an increase in violence. “Rarely have I seen a piece of legislation that in so few paragraphs directly violates so many basic, universal human rights,” Pillay said.

Perhaps the most powerful rebuke against the law came from UNAIDS. In addition to “further criminalizing LGBT people, organizations and activities as well as people who support them,” the organization said the law could prevent access to vital HIV services for LBGT people. “The health, development and human rights implications of the new law are potentially far-reaching,” UNAIDS and the Global Fund said in a statement.

According to UNAIDS, Nigeria has the second largest HIV epidemic in the world. An estimated 3.4 million Nigerians–4 percent of the general population–are living with HIV, and the organization argues that the law could undermine Jonathan’s own presidential initiative to fight the disease. “The provisions of the law could lead to increased homophobia, discrimination, denial of HIV services and violence based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity,” UNAIDS said. “It could also be used against organizations working to provide HIV prevention and treatment services to LGBT people.”

Many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa outlaw homosexual acts. Efforts by Western nations to cut aid to countries like Uganda and Malawi have helped to bridle anti-gay legislation in those countries. But Nigeria, Africa’s largest producer of oil with an output of 2.5 million barrels per day, is mostly impervious to that kind of economic pressure. As Africa’s most populous country, developments in Nigeria echo across the continent, and there appears little other countries can do except condemn the new legislation.

 

350 comments
baphomantrobert
baphomantrobert

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Karol Arrazcue
Karol Arrazcue

Crystal Saufley Manuel Ponce Good! Example of a country. Lets visit and congratulate fellow lawmakers

EvanBurrell
EvanBurrell

Our religions, no matter what religion that may be, are supposed to be self governing. We have no right to push our rules or views (based on such beliefs) onto others, just as they have no right to do the same to us. Please remember this before you cast judgments on others lifestyles, especially when those judgments make the laws of the land. 


Using your belief system to actively discriminate is wrong, and when society collectively has had enough you don't get to play the martyr. US fundamentalist are behind this mess, and our country should be ashamed we've spread such vile hate elsewhere when it wouldn't prosper here.

mbarnes1980
mbarnes1980

What a great initiative by president Jonathan! Obivously, of all the problems Nigeria is suffering from today, including a virtual civil war in parts of the North, religious extremism, an Aids epidemic, inter-ethnic and inter-religious strife, terrorism, corruption in the goverment and the police services, abysmal to non-existent social and public services, yes of all those problems, THE biggest one was allowing gay and lesbian people to exist on national territory. Now that that horrible oversight has been corrected, all those other issues will just fall right into place! Mark my words, Nigeria will be Africa's Singapore in a year's time now that all that gay mess has been cleaned up. Bravo Goodluck for keeping your sights set on the real priorities!

emeka5
emeka5

@mbarnes1980 does it kill you when a man sleeps with another man. all sins are equal. If homosexuality is illegal then adultery and lying should be illegal too. 

mbarnes1980
mbarnes1980

@emeka5 

I agree, this is precisely the next action president Jonathan should take! Oh wait a minute, banning lying could be tricky for a politician. On second thought, let's just keep sticking it to the gays, shall we? (no homo)

emeka5
emeka5

@mbarnes1980 are you joking because this is serious. Sex between two consenting adult is no one's business but theirs. the government has no right to interfere . 

mbarnes1980
mbarnes1980

@emeka5@mbarnes1980 

Emeka darling, can't you see the connection? Corruption = gays. Misappropriation of oil revenus - so gay, where do you think they get the money to buy all that sequined clothing? Religious strife in the North? Just take everyone's mind off it by organizing a "fish-out the Gay man" party - religious divisions instantly healed and all in good fun! I laud Goodluck for not paying attention to real problems and instead drawing all the attention to something that wasn't problem at all until the government made it one - genius! He so needs to be Napoleoned - Goodluck for Emperor anyone?

mbarnes1980
mbarnes1980

@I-am-Sapiosexual

Sapio-honey, we all just want what's best for Nigeria. 

And clearly the first step in healing Nigeria's ills is banning people from engaging in loving relationships with the partner of their choice. I mean what sort of message would the contrary send to our children? That they too, hetero or no, can just go an fall in love with someone without getting the approval of their parents, their respective ethnic and religious groups and the federal government of Nigeria first? Have you really thought of the consequences of such a path? Two people getting married - in love?? Satan will be laughing himself off his fiery throne, darling!

I-am-Sapiosexual
I-am-Sapiosexual

@mbarnes1980  Did you just write, "Real Priorities"? LOL. Ignorance of the highest order. So our health sector, education, roads, electricity, fundamental human rights in Nigeria

are what exactly? "Fake Priorities" ??? Please oo, tell me how exactly the "Gay mess" was obstructing Nigeria from progressing since over 50 years of democracy. I want you to drop religion for a moment and ask yourself this question, How are gay practices affecting my economy? 


Please don't tell me it is affecting human reproduction because there are many couples out there that are forever barren and i am sure God's intention was not to stop human reproduction. 

Or,

It will cause an increase in Std's like HIV/AIDS because non of the states in the U.S that has passed the bill in support of the LGBT(lesbian,gay,bisexual and transgender) community has recorded an increase in HIV/AIDS.


As Christians, what our paramount obligation should be is their salvation and not imprisonment. After the 14yrs jail term, they will still come out gay because that is just who they are. 




I-am-Sapiosexual
I-am-Sapiosexual

@mbarnes1980 First of all, when you are having an intellectual discussion refrain from using words like "Honey" or "Darling". It is obvious that you are just trolling and i don't have time to debate with a troll on such a sensitive and dangerous matter. 

mbarnes1980
mbarnes1980

@I-am-Sapiosexual@mbarnes1980 

Sweety, intellectualism doesn't proclude a little verbal sugar to ease the passage of a bitter pill. Obviously you read my comments and missed the point by miles - darling, if my comments were Lagos your reply would be in Kinshasa by now! 

I'm aware of the seriousness of the situation and while I do hope that if a Deity exists she/he/they will make sure Goodluck chokes on a chicken bone, preferably in one of those super chic European restaurants he blows our national inheritance on, and crokes, in the meantime I will make a little fun of him on Time and use my other hours to agitate against him in more serious forums.


Love and kisses from Nigeria :)

linuoxing
linuoxing

@emeka5 @mbarnes1980   Well, in the good ol US of A, Europe and latin America polygamy is outlawed. Yet polygamy is more widely practiced and is more "natural"  (many people are involved in more than one concurrent sexual relationship) than homosexuality. So while criminalizing gay relationships is abhorrent, don't forget to point out the flaws in our country.

Nnamdi Ohia
Nnamdi Ohia

It can happens in Nigeria others can for ur information.

Joey999
Joey999

Most of people keep saying negative comment about Nigeria passing Anti-Gay Law but the question is very simple.. will anyone of you be here today if everyone in the world are being Gay?

I-am-Sapiosexual
I-am-Sapiosexual

@Joey999  Really, that is your "big" question? You must be kidding me! Firstly, not everyone can be gay, just like not everybody can be tall, short, fat, thin, male, female, religious or sensible (The Nigerian Government is obviously not sensible). I am a Nigerian living in the same community as gay people and i must say, their gay practices does not affect me, the community, children and the ecosystem at large, so why exactly must their practices the abolished. This is a matter of fundamental human rights, it is not meant to be debated. What makes us, even the Christians different from Al-Qaeda or Boko-Haram if we impose and shove our believes down peoples throat. Ehn? Please tell me. 

NormanDostal
NormanDostal

Joey, come on-youre quite the idiot. Gay people arent made, you moron-they simply are. Outlawing gays does nto stop gay people from existing! It drives them underground, it makes them marry women and spread disease. Imbecile!!

rosa_indigo
rosa_indigo

OMG! What a legislation! Is this even real?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Our crazy evangelicals like Scott Lively brought this law to Africa. Rest assured they would do the same here of they could.

charles79
charles79

The anti-gay law is best law and policy signed by the Nigerian Government to date. A society is not only judged by its infrastructural developments and GDP, the moral latitude of its society must also be a focus. It's biologically and morally wrong for same sexes to have intercourse, the thought of the act is reprehensible and simply disgusting. I reserve my sympathy for only those who from childhood are introduced to such abhorrent acts or inducted into it, the rest of you engaging in homosexuality should seek counsel or exorcism.

NormanDostal
NormanDostal

wow-youre just a backwards, primtive savage

NormanDostal
NormanDostal

another bigoted black? wow-i done seen everythang!!

SayedLester
SayedLester

@NormanDostal why are you such an ignorant racist, even Putin who is not an African is not in support of gay.

NormanDostal
NormanDostal

I am not racist, you idiot. I just dont like primtive, savage black people who hurt other human beings because they are brainwashed by religious kookery. You like backwards, bigoted  black people? weirdo- Who the hell is Putin?

romano70
romano70

This is the reason why Africa is a wasted continent. It is not that they don't have the resopurces....it is that their ignorance does not allow them become more that a starving continent, always begging for food, dying of AIDS, killing each other in civil wars. I have no sympathy for millions of people who can't seem to get their act together... they were much better off under colonialism...at least there was order in their societies....

charles79
charles79

You have the freedom of right to abuse a whole race and continent, you simply don't have the right to be Gay in Nigeria PERIOD

Quakouman
Quakouman

@romano70 Keep dreaming in the 21st Century when Africa's future is hopeful than that of any other continent in the world. Beside Africa had once been prosperous before you type ever landed on this continent.Why do you always try to narrow down Africa to the period of colonisation and post colonisation. There is pre-colonial African history that dates back to biblical times when Europe was not even in existence. Why do you always avoid that because it will bring into the spot light how blessed Africa  was before the arrival of Europeans. For your information, Africa is the light of the world. This is evident with the number of white faces that keeps increasing in Africa as a result of the deteriorating economic conditions in their so-called developed countries. God Bless Africa as we continue to fear Him and get rid of sinful practices.

mbarnes1980
mbarnes1980

@romano70Africa is now what Europe was after the fall of the Roman Empire. Plague, war, massacres, religious extremism, illteracy and ignorance. It took the West over a thousand years to climb out of that hole and it had to do it by itself. No amount of aid will ever teach a people the path they need to take and it will probably be a very long time before Africa learns to get on its feet again. It's best to show a little understanding of history.

Also, those of you who claim Biblical justification as a basis for stripping people who don't think like you of their rights and opening them up to abuse and violence seem to forget the very important quotes "Judge not lest ye be judged, for as ye are judging thus ye will be judged" and "Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone". Christianity at its origin was the promotion of love, forgiveness and understanding over harsh rules and penalties. It's amazing to me how many Christians seem to have forgotten the very foundation of their own religion!


NormanDostal
NormanDostal

then why are then tens of millions of gays in Africa?

AndersonEzine
AndersonEzine

This is great! Aberrant behavior is to be addressed and corrected, not applauded and called "natural." Way to go, Nigeria!

JeffreyJohnson
JeffreyJohnson

@AndersonEzine You piss on the graves of every one how ever fought for your freedom. How does that feel hater? There is no denying justice and equality, fight with all your might but you just make us stronger. Thanks for that. Oh yeah and that gun in your icon doesn't make you look crazy at all.

JeffreyJohnson
JeffreyJohnson

Kristallnacht: At least 91 Jews were killed in the attacks, and 30,000 were arrested and incarcerated inconcentration camps.[2] Jewish homes, hospitals, and schools were ransacked, as the attackers demolished buildings with sledgehammers.[3] Over 1,000 synagogues were burned (95 in Vienna alone) and over 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed or damaged

JeffreyJohnson
JeffreyJohnson

@AndersonEzine @JeffreyJohnson  When did you decide to fall in love with someone and did you have to decide to be gay or straight or did it just happen? People all over the world are fighting for equality here, if you don't see that you just don't get it. The laws that have been passed there are no different then the laws passed by Nazi Germany and you know the path leads to the same place. You are for genocide or against it. You tell me? Then straighten it out with God in the end. 

AndersonEzine
AndersonEzine

@JeffreyJohnson"Jewish" is an ethnicity. Similar to being Black, one is born this way and has no option to "change" or conceal his or her identity. Engaging in homosexual acts is a choice. And, as erred behavior, it should be corrected.

derhundsturm
derhundsturm

Right on! Finally hearing from a country whose sexual ethics aren't set by the likes of mtv and lady gaga!

charles79
charles79

@JefferyJohnson, stop comparing the Nazi genocide and being gay, you may however compare it with the punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah to what awaits those who are gay or advocate it.

JeffreyJohnson
JeffreyJohnson

@derhundsturm you are the kind of person that is happy for genocide, butchery and the Holocaust. What kind of person does that make you? We feel sorry for you...... I have faith you can be a better person, just remember one thing, every time you post hate like this it makes those fighting for justice and equality that much stronger. 

NormanDostal
NormanDostal

charles, 10,000 gays were killed in WW2 by Nazis-learn history, you idiot

OkechukwuRichOkorie
OkechukwuRichOkorie

The best part of this article is...


But Nigeria, Africa’s largest producer of oil with an output of 2.5 million barrels per day, is mostly impervious to that kind of economic pressure. As Africa’s most populous country, developments in Nigeria echo across the continent, and there appears little other countries can do except condemn the new legislation.

Deal with it.

NormanDostal
NormanDostal

Africa is starving and dying-god clearly hates Africa

Ola Emmanuel
Ola Emmanuel

No to lebianism and gayism and thats final. God created Adam and Eve and not Eve Eve or Adam and Adam. Whoever is not satisfied with the law should go and sit on a transformer. Nonsense!

romano70
romano70

Your writing shows how ignorant you are...by the way, if you believe in fairy tales posted in the Bible, that is YOUR prerrogative. But know that you ONLY have that option not because it is right or because you deserve it, but because us tolerant people respect other people's belifs, even when it is NONSENSE