PRESS RELEASE[ABUJA] – The International Centre for Advocacy on the Right to Health [ICARH], the Initiative for Equal Rights [TIER] and the African Men for Sexual Health and Rights [AMSHeR] condemn the signing into law of the Same Sex [Prohibition] Act 2014 by the Nigerian President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
The Act bans marriages or civil unions between persons of the same sex within Nigeria and void any such marriages and civil unions entered legally in other countries in Nigeria. The law goes further to criminalise the registration of ‘gay clubs, societies and organisations, their subsistence, possessions and meetings’ and bans the ‘public show of same sex amorous relationship either directly or indirectly’. The law provides a sentence of 10 years imprisonment to any person or group of persons that ‘witness, abets and aids the solemnisation of a same sex union or supports the registration of gay clubs, societies and organisations, processions or meetings’.
‘This law does not only criminalise same sex marriage which was already illegal in Nigeria, but it also is a violation of Chapter Four of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which guarantees the rights to freedom of association, expression, private life and freedom from discrimination’, says Olumide Makanjuola, Executive Director, TIERS.
The Act will also have adverse effects on healthcare practitioners who provide services to key populations including men who have sex with other men [MSM] as well as deny access to HIV services to persons in high-risk environments such as prisons. According to Mr. Ifeanyi Orazulike, of ICARH, Nigeria, ‘this law will undermine the efforts of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the President’s Comprehensive Response Plan for HIV/AIDS [PCRP] to address the high burden of HIV among key populations and will reverse the progress made so far in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.’
AMSHeR urges the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to consider the implications of this law on the fundamental rights of Nigerian citizens who will become targets of abuse, violence and other human rights violations on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. According to Kene Esom, Director of Programmes at AMSHeR, ‘Increasingly some African governments use homosexuality to whip up public sentiments and to divert attention from key national challenges such as rising unemployment, poverty, collapse of healthcare systems, corruption and police brutality. Unfortunately Nigeria’s Same-Sex [Prohibition] Act 2014 adds to the arsenals of redundant legislations used by the police and law enforcement agents to harass, blackmail and extort money from innocent citizens.’
AMSHeR calls on the Government of Nigeria to honour its domestic and international obligations and commitments to respect, protect and ensure the fulfilment of rights of all people within its territory; and to particularly protect minority groups from violence and discrimination by taking proactive steps to put in place measure that prevent the violation of their human rights.
ICARH is an independent research initiative established in 1999 for the main purpose of contributing to policy issues/matter affecting the rights of sexual minorities and people living with HIV [PLHIV] in Nigeria through research, analysis, training, awareness campaigns development and advocacy.
TIER envisions a society that is free from discrimination on the grounds of age, gender, tribe and especially sexual orientation and gender identity amongst others. It works to achieve this through education, empowerment and advocacy. TIER’s activities include but not limited to Sexual health programming, skill acquisition programs, capacity building development and legal aid program.
AMSHeR is a regional coalition human rights organisations in 15 African countries working to address the vulnerability of MSM to HIV and to advocate for the respect and protection of the human rights of sexual minorities in Africa including the abolition of laws, policies and practices that promote violence, stigma and discrimination particularly on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
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