More on the extreme anti-gay legislation proposed this week in Nigeria. The draconian bill proposed in Africa's most populous nation goes beyond merely banning same-sex marriage—which is already illegal—and would ban same sex relationships, ban same sex couples from living together, and prosecute their friends or human rights activists.
Nigerian gays and lesbians are often "too terrified" to speak out publicly against legislation,. But about 30 LGBT activists braved humiliation, "harassment" and "abuse" to voice opposition at Friday's senate hearing. The courageous activists were part of the Nigerian LGBTI in Diaspora Against Anti-Same Sex Laws and the report is by Ogunyemi AdeKunle Bolu.
[A woman] from the LGBT coalition stepped forward to present the position paper. She was interjected many times by different religious and other homophobic groups present in the room with the aim to bully and humiliate her. However, she was soon overwhelmed by the unruly crowd and eventually broke down in tears. She managed to finish the presentation amidst abuses and offensive calls mostly from religious groups present.
The senators immediately assailed her with so many questions without giving her any space to catch her breath. Many of the questions asked were irrelevant and mostly intended to humiliate her; in fact many of the questions would pass as hate comments in any civilized country. Some of the questions asked by the senators were "Do you believe in God?" "Are you a lesbian?" "Do you know that homosexuality was imported from the western world to Africa?" Her response that she is a Catholic generated a lot of unprintable remarks.
The testimony is quite moving. Bravo to Ogunyemi AdeKunle Bolu and his friends for demonstrating so much courage under fire.
Under existing federal law, sodomy is punishable by jail. Twelve Islamic states in northern Nigeria have introduced the draconian Sharia law that has sentenced several gays to death. These sentences have never been enforced.
Since 2007, the National Assembly has twice proposed extreme anti-gay legislation, but the bills have stalled under international pressure. Previous versions of the bill banned gays from meeting, living together , reading LGBT websites or even going out to dinner.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission have written a letter to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives, the Nigerian National Human Rights Commission, urging legislators to reject the bill.
Some Background ...
NIGERIA: Hearings Begin on Extreme Legislation
Nigerian Village Vows to "Stone Any Homosexual"
EU Considers Suspending Aid to Nigeria
Nigerian Legislators Vote to Ban Gay Marriages
EU: Level of Homophobia in Nigeria "Unacceptable"
Nigerian Mob Attacks Gay Activist
Nigerian Lynch Mob Storms Jail
Nigeria: 18 Gays Face Death Penalty
Nigerian Lesbian In Hiding After Reported Wedding
Nigeria's Homophobia Threatens Bid for Games
Nigeria One Step Closer to Outlawing Gays