UN High Commissioner criticizes Nigeria’s anti-LGBT legislation

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The United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, spoke out against Nigeria’s anti-LGBT policy. Pillay spoke on BBC World news, on June 28, criticizing Nigeria’s law which criminalizes public displays of homosexual intimacy and advocacy. 

“I am very concerned that the rights of LGBT people… their sexual orientation rights are being violated; that they are being subjected to discrimination and I condemn this law of Nigeria because it violates the Equality Clause both of Nigerian law as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which speaks of equality for all,” Pillay said in her address on BBC World news.

Based on a poll conducted by NOIS Pollls Limited in partnership with Gallup Polling, 92 percent of Nigerians are against marriage equality. 85 percent of the Nigerian population believe that “being gay was not part of the country’s culture.” 

Same-sex marriage is illegal in Nigeria, as is the forming of LGBT rights or advocacy groups. Gay and lesbian couples who even attempt to get married or LGBTA individuals who fight for basic human rights, could face at lease 10 years in jail. 

President Goodluck has to sign the final bill, to make the law official, however based on his own beliefs, and the philosophy of his country, it seems unlikely that he will choose not to. However, some legalities may get in his way. 

However, there are a few obstacles that may stand in his way from signing the bill. One is the influence of the United States and the United Kingdom. Both countries aid in HIV/AIDS program funding in Nigeria, which has the world’s third highest population of people living with the disease. 

Two, is that Nigeria has signed human rights treaties which Pillay cited in her address. “Nigeria has signed many treaties; Nigeria has to report how it’s implementing and delivering on its obligations,” Pillay said. It is up to Nigeria to make good on these treaties and to prove to the UN how they are implementing these promises.  

The anti-LGBT legislation, which passed the House of Representatives May 30, states, “any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations directly or indirectly, makes a public show of a same-sex amorous relationship commits an offense and shall be liable to a term of 10 years imprisonment.”

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