Thursday, December 01, 2011

Gays w/o Borders Deplores
Nigeria's Anti-LGBT Bill

The following letter was sent to every email address I could locate at the Nigerian embassy's site. More information about the problems of a nasty homophobic bill under consideration in Nigeria can be found the Nigerian LGBTI in Diaspora's web site.

Please use this email list and contact the embassy officials today. Feel free to take this letter, use it as the basis for your own note and let the Nigerian embassy in Washington hear from you.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

December 1, 2011

Nigerian Embassy
Washington, DC

Dear Ambassador Prof. Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye and Colleagues,

On behalf of Gays Without Borders, I write to you expressing our group's deep concern for the human rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens of Nigeria.

We wish to register with dismay our worries over the proposed bill titled “An Act to Prohibit Marriage Between Persons of Same Gender, Solemnization of Same and for Other Matters Related Therewith” sponsored by Senator Domingo Obende. This bill contradicts fundamental human rights under Nigeria's constitution, international and regional human rights law and standards including:

- Nigerian Constitution Section 42 which prohibits discrimination against any person on the basis of sex or membership of a group. Also, Section 34 guarantees the right to the dignity of the human person. It states “Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly no person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment;”

- The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. This regional law affirms the equality of all people. Article 2 of the law states: "Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, color, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status."

- Article 26 of the law prescribes that "Every individual shall have the duty to respect and consider his fellow beings without discrimination, and to maintain relations aimed at promoting, safeguarding and reinforcing mutual respect and tolerance."

- The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which affirms the equality of all people before the law and the right to freedom from discrimination.

- The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Article 5 of this declaration affirms that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: a) to meet or assemble peacefully; b) to form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups."

The Nigerian sodomy law is a relic from British colonization. The British parliament and many of its former colonies e.g. Canada, Australia, South Africa and India have repealed the law. Why is Nigeria clinging and seeking to strengthen this antiquated law through the proposed anti-same sex relationship bill?

The argument that any sexual act or relationship that deviates from the standard heterosexual norm is against African culture is using “culture” to sanction the erasure of dialogue about alternative sexualities and to condone homophobia, therefore constituting a form of cultural violence.

All members of Gays Without Borders urge you and your government to do the following:

- Say no to the passage of this bill.

- Repeal all sodomy laws and other criminal provisions against consensual same-sex relationships.

- Protect and uphold the human rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders and their human rights defenders in Nigeria.

I hope you agree with Gays Without Borders that the government of Nigeria should be responsible for respecting, protecting and enabling human rights, and not the limitation and violation of human rights of its citizens.

Michael Petrelis
Community Organizer
Gays Without Borders
San Francisco, California, USA

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