Nigerian presidential candidate says homosexuality is a crime, after pledging to legalise it

A presidential hopeful in Nigeria has insisted that homosexuality is “a crime,” after he reportedly pledged to decriminalise it.

Donald Duke had allegedly said that he “would not criminalise” gay people if he were to be elected president.

Homosexuality is illegal in the country, with those convicted of having gay sex facing up to 14 years in prison – apart from in 12 northern states with Sharia law, where they are stoned to death.

Duke clarified his remarks on Instagram. (realdonalduke/Instagram)

However, the candidate has since clarified his views in a post on Instagram.

“Recently a statement I made during an interview concerning gay rights and homosexuality has been construed as my affirmation of homosexuality and same sex marriage,” he wrote.

“Nothing is further from the truth. Homosexuality is a crime in Nigeria and ought to remain so.”

However, Duke added that what he did say was that “I would not go seeking homosexuals for prosecution as this is liable to abuses and as such would rather not delve into the sexuality of an individual.”

He continued: “For the avoidance of doubt, our law on homosexuality stands in fact and in my moral rectitude.”

Those convicted of having gay sex in Nigeria face up to 14 years in prison or death. (donald duke/facebook)

The former governor of Cross Rivers State, in south Nigeria, made his original comments about homosexuality on a YouTube show called On The Couch.

On the show, he said: “I want to talk about gender – I’m going to be taking questions on gay rights.

“I don’t understand it because I’m straight. I don’t understand the emotional feelings a gay person, for instance, would have of their sexuality. I don’t understand it.”

Duke made the comments on YouTube show On The Couch (OnTheCouch Naija/youtube)

He added: “But I would not criminalise them. I would ensure that they have the protection of the law.”

However, he explained that “if they want to exhibit their sexuality, that is an affront on the norms of the society, the current norms.”

Duke’s statements come after Nigerian police raided a hotel in Lagos on August 26 and arrested 57 men on suspicion of having gay sex, just weeks after six men in the south-eastern state of Abia were arrested for the same reason.

Last year, 42 men were arrested at a hotel in Lagos state and charged with performing “homosexual acts.”

Earlier this year, Nigerian politicians hit out at Prime Minister Theresa May after the British leader promoted LGBT+ rights in the Commonwealth countries that still criminalise homosexuality.

During the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) meeting in April, May spoke about the UK’s regret at imposing anti-gay laws in former colonies.

She noted that 36 of the 53 Commonwealth countries continue to criminalise homosexuality, saying: “I deeply regret the fact that such laws were introduced, and the legacy of discrimination, violence and even death that persists today.”