Nigeria Anti-Gay Laws Increasing Concern of Homophobia in Africa

Nigeria

Anti-Gay laws signed in Nigeria arrives at a time where there is an increasing amount of concern for Africa’s gay population. Homophobia is reaching “dangerous levels”  across the continent, according to a 2013 Amnesty International report.

The legislation, signed last week and made public on Monday by President Goodluck Jonathan, will punish Nigerians involved in same sex marriage with a prison sentence of up to 14 years. Gay groups and public affection among homosexuals is also banned.

Response in Western countries is overwhelmingly negative, including Britain, who has threatened to withdraw aid from African countries with anti-gay legislation. Moreover, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the law “dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association and expression for all Nigerians.”

However, within the country, gay rights are not a pressing issue for most Nigerians. The law is agreed upon by most citizens, including Christians and Muslims who make up a combined 90 percent of Nigeria’s population, according to demographics statistics on Index Mundi.

Analysts say the timing of the legislation could be a tactic for the president, whose popularity appears to be declining as the 2015 elections approach. Political science lecturer, Abubakar Kari, tells Voice of America that the bill may have also been signed to distract the public from controversy around the defect of high-level members in the ruling party to opposition parties.

However, the concern of the legislation stretches outside of Nigeria around the continent.

In their June 2013 report, Making Love a Crime, Amnesty International reported that “the existence of laws that criminalize one group of people based on who they are…sends a message to the broader population that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is acceptable, and that human rights do not apply to LGBTI.”

With anti-gay legislation signed in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country,  that homophobic message is sure to spread exponentially throughout the continent.

Large countries like Uganda could follow through, as a bill was already passed in December. The bill, not yet signed into law, that punishes certain acts of homosexuality with life in prison. Also, anyone who counsels homosexuals will also see a prison sentence.

Other notable countries with anti-gay legislation’s include Burundi, who outlawed sexual relations with the same sex in 2009; and South Sudan who criminalized consensual same-sex conduct with up to 10 years’ imprisonment. Liberia also introduced bills to toughen penalties on same-sex conduct in 2012.

In total, of the 83 countries worldwide with anti-homosexuality laws, 38 of them are in Africa.

Amnesty International also reports that other concerns arise out of anti-gay legislation. In many countries such as Cambodia, individuals are arrested, charged and sentenced without evidence of same-sex conduct, and in some cases, invasive medical examinations are performed to obtain such evidence. The report also states that the laws allow opportunities for abuse by both police and non-state actors.

However, the situation in Africa is not all too bleak. Countries such as Mozambique in 2007, Seychelles in 2006, Cape Verde and Mauritius in 2008, and Botswana in 2010 have all introduced legislation to outlaw discrimination on sexual orientation. Moreover, South Africa is also noted as having made progress, including allowing joint adoption by same-sex couples in 2002 and legalizing same-sex marriage in 2006.

By Kollin Lore

Sources:

Amnesty International

CNN

Index Mundi

Voice of America

 

RSS Guardian Express

  • Iranian Messi a Target for European Elite: World Cup Preview [Video] April 20, 2014
    A number of Europe’s elite clubs are targeting a young forward dubbed the “Iranian Messi” before he is selected to represent his country at the 2014 World Cup. Rubin Kazan forward Sardar Azmoun is a rising star and he is tipped to win senior honors at the big event in Brazil. Premier League side Arsenal […]
    Robert Shepherd
  • Los Angeles Times Building Scare April 20, 2014
    A scare at the Los Angeles Times building resulted in a lockdown and search of the entire premises. Suspect, Matthew Lowes, was detained by police and taken without incident from the second floor of the building. The second floor of the Times building has space rented by VXI Global Solutions, which Lowes works for. Lowes […]
    Raul Hernandez
  • Indiana Pacers Struggles Continue April 20, 2014
    The Indiana Pacers’ late-season struggles continued as the team lost to the visiting Atlanta Hawks yesterday by a score of 101-93. When the team is playing its best, the offense features a balanced attack. In order for the offense to hum, the team needs balanced scoring from the inside and outside. Against the Hawks, Roy […]
    William Costolo
  • Influenza B Virus Making a Strong Spring Appearance April 20, 2014
    The Influenza strain B virus is making a strong appearance, although spring is not its usual time of year. This strain of the flu is not the same one that was making people sick mid-winter. This means that even if someone has already had the virus once this flu season, they can still get it […]
    Twanna Harps
  • Toronto Raptors Have Bitten Off More Than They Can Chew April 20, 2014
    If you look at the day the city of Toronto and their beloved Toronto Raptor’s had, it would be really easy to come to the conclusion that the  Toronto Raptors have bitten off more than they can chew. Toronto Sun Times readers were greeted with an incendiary cover , featuring a picture of Kevin Garnett […]
    Daryl McElveen

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 628 other subscribers

Quantcast