Activists oppose anti-gay Nigerian law

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Human rights activists in Nigeria have formed an alliance against the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill now in the National Assembly, saying it violates people’s sexual rights.

The bill calls for imprisonment for any person who “goes through the ceremony of marriage with a person of the same sex”, anyone who helps them and any gay clubs or organisations.

Activists pledged to use every constitutional means to stop the bill, which they described as injurious to sexual minorities, accusing the sponsors of the bill of being sentimental and insensitive to the sexuality rights of a population.

Already, International Centre for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights (INCRESE), Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), Constitutional Rights Project (CRP) and Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) have formed a consortium to pursue the case.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that three other organisations — National Human Rights Commission, Alliance Rights and Global Rights — also pledged their commitment to the stoppage of the bill at the workshop.

The alliance is to, among other things, ensure that a public hearing is held before the bill is passed, to afford them the opportunity to contribute to its provisions.

They are also to sensitise members of the public on sexuality rights as it affects everybody to elicit attitudinal change toward them.

The Executive Director of INCRESE, Miss Dorothy Aken’Ova, told NAN that sexual minorities in the country constituted a large and diverse population. She said that given the right and safe atmosphere, a very large number of women in the country would prefer same sex marriage because that was the only way they achieved sexual satisfaction. Aken’Ova said that many women pretended to be in heterosexual marriages while keeping lesbian partners to achieve their sexual satisfaction.

She said that her group had 53 registered lesbians from various parts of the country, adding that many others identified with their activities but were not courageous to register.

An official of Alliance Rights also said it had more than 2,000 registered homosexuals in the country.

The leader of the House, Abdul Ningi, previously said homosexuality needs to be addressed as it is embarrassing the country.