‘Homosexuality is not a crime,’ says Nigerian presidential candidate

A Nigerian presidential candidate has said that homosexuality “is not a crime.”

Eunice Atuejide, who founded the National Interest Party, and is seeking to become the country’s first female president, said being gay “may be immoral,” but no one should go to prison for it.

She made the comments on YouTube show On The Couch after fellow candidate Donald Duke used the same platform to say he “would not criminalise” LGBT+ people—only to retract those comments just days later, emphasising that “homosexuality is a crime in Nigeria and ought to remain so.”

Duke appearing on the YouTube show (OnTheCouch Naija/YouTube)

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.

Last month, police raided a hotel in Lagos 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.

When asked about the issue, Atuejide, whose party logo features a huge rainbow and the message: “A Nigeria For All,” told hosts Falz and Laila Johnson-Salami: “My party members are going to hate me. Why did you bring this up?”

Atuejide is bidding to become Nigeria’s first female president (OnTheCouch Naija/YouTube)

But she was clear in her views, telling the hosts: “Homosexuality is not a crime,” before adding: “It may be immoral, it may be unacceptable because of our cultures, it may be the worst thing our kids can do to us.”

The 40-year-old self-professed political newcomer said she would cry if any of her five children came out to her, because “it’s so not normal to just decide that you’re going against nature.”

“But it’s not a crime! Why would you go to jail because you decide that instead of following a woman, you want to follow a man? As long as you do it away from me, it’s not a crime,” said Atuejide.

“It’s not a crime!” (OnTheCouch Naija/YouTube)

She denied that this made her homophobic, insisting: “I have a lot of friends that are bisexual and completely gay, and I respect them and I love them.

“Please, guys,” she added, looking straight down the camera, “this is true. I love you. I respect you. I cannot be you. I don’t know it, I don’t understand it. But I accept it. I respect it.”

“They’ve made a choice, and it is correct for all of us to respect those choices. Oh god, I’m going to have enemies,” said the politician.

“I love you. I respect you. I cannot be you. I don’t know it, I don’t understand it. But I accept it. I respect it.” (OnTheCouch Naija/YouTube)

Writing on Twitter after the interview went live, Atuejide said she was “awfully ashamed” of Duke, adding that after his retraction, “I lost the little respect I’d started to develop for Donald Duke.

“We must learn to state our opinions clearly, & stand by them no matter whose oxes are gored! How else do you assure the electorates that your word is your bond?! ”

The multilingual lawyer, who went to university in Germany, Nigeria and the UK, continued: “Homosexuality may be immoral, but it’s not a crime!

“Homosexuals are HUMANS!” (eunice_atuejide/Twitter)

“Nobody gets hurt when 2 or more fully consenting adults indulge in same-sex activities. We can criminalise public displays, but certainly not stuff fully consenting adults do in the privacy of their homes, offices, hotels etc.

“Homosexuals are HUMANS! EVERY human has a fundamental right to protection of their privacy. Let’s read the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“We’re ALL equal under our laws!” (eunice atuejide/Facebook)

“We’re ALL equal under our laws! And laws which contravene the Constitution are null & void to the extent of contradiction,” she added.

The candidate concluded: “Prison sentence because one is homosexual – that is to say, because one is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual etc runs foul of our Constitution.”