The Nigerian legislature has before it another bill to prohibit same-sex unions and make a criminal out of anyone who witnesses or formalizes such marriages.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Nigerian Bar Association Human Rights Institute (NBAHRI) and Nigerian human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are deeply concerned by the ‘Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2008’, currently before the Nigerian National Assembly. The Bill would introduce criminal penalties for marriage ceremonies between persons of the same sex as well as for persons witnessing or helping to formalize such a marriage. The groups say that this is contrary to the Nigerian Constitution and inconsistent with Nigeria’s obligations under international and regional human rights treaties which the country has ratified. They are urging the National Assembly not to pass the Bill.
Amnesty International UK's LGBT Campaigner, Kim Manning-Cooper said:
'Singling out and depriving one group of people of rights that all are entitled to enjoy according to Nigeria's Constitution is blatant discrimination. And penalising people who witness same sex marriages is also an outrageous breach of basic human rights.
'There is no way such a Bill can be passed without it being in breach of international and regional treaties which Nigeria has ratified. It would also contravene the Nigerian Constitution. We would strongly encourage the National Assembly not to pass the Bill.'
The Bill has a broad definition of same sex marriages and relationships. It is feared that, if passed, it could lead to the arbitrary arrest of people on the basis of rumors about their sexual orientation or behavior.
Kim Manning-Cooper added:
'Without the protection of fundamental freedoms, it is impossible for activists to form organizations and campaign for LGBT rights or even to meet in public. If this Bill is passed, it may be dangerous for them to meet even in private.
'The Nigerian government has a duty to promote and protect the human rights of its population without distinction of any kind, including sexual orientation or gender identity. And as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, Nigeria is required to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights of all people regardless of their sexual orientation.
Let's hope it lives up to its obligations by not proceeding any further with this Bill.'
HT to Thinking Anglicans.
Amnesty International: Nigeria: 'Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill' violates Constitution and Nigeria: 'Same gender marriage (Prohibition) Bill' threatens imprisonment of members of the LGBT community