Nigerian President: ‘The situation of homosexuals in Nigeria is delicate’

PinkNews logo with white background and rainbow corners

The President of Nigeria has been confronted over his country’s anti-gay laws at a summit of African leaders in Washington.

President Goodluck Jonathan was approached by gay Nigerian activist Micheal Ighodaro during a dinner hosted by business groups on Wednesday.

Mr Ighodaro left Nigeria in 2012 after his ribs and hand were broken in an attack in the capital of Abuja and is now a fellow at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in New York.

Nigeria strengthened laws against same-sex sexual activity at the start of the year by banning same-sex marriages, gay groups and shows of same-sex public affection.

Mr Ighodaro challenged President Jonathan about the Anti-Same-Sex Marriage Act.

The campaigner told BuzzFeed that the president replied: “The situation of homosexuals in Nigeria is delicate, but during this week the topic has come up a lot and it is something we will continue to look into, especially the attacks.

“If you think the law is unconstitutional you have the right to go to court and fight [to strike] it down,” which Mr Ighodaro interpreted as a reference to similar Ugandan legislation struck down by the country’s Constitutional Court last Friday.

In a speech dominated by the threat of terrorism, President Jonathan made a vague reference to his country’s anti-gay laws, saying: “I cannot end my remarks without making reference to two issues that my ambassador here is spending much of his time explaining to you… about the issue of sexuality in the country. Let me reassure you that, well, of course we have challenges.”

Earlier this week at the Africa Leaders’ Summit, US President Barack Obama met with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni,

George W Bush also called on African governments to do more to tackle HIV yesterday at the summit.