In January, Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, signed the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act into law. This act imposes a 14-year prison sentence for attempting to marry a partner of the same sex.
Nigerians convicted of same-sex public displays of affection, or of participating in organizations or meetings related to LGBT issues face ten years of jail time.
In the weeks since President Jonathan signed the law, Nigeria has seen a sharp increase in anti-LGBT mob violence and the arrest of dozens of LGBT people.
In the wake of these disturbing developments, the Solidarity Alliance, Nigeria, calls upon people around the world to join a Global Day of Action against violent and legalized homophobia, social injustice, and systematic violation of human rights.
We encourage all supporters of human rights to sign this online petition calling for Nigeria’s leaders to stop all cases of arrests and persecution of people based on perceived or real sexual orientation, to investigate and prosecute cases of incitement to violence against LGBT people, and to ensure access to justice for victims of mob justice and arbitrary arrests.
For those of you in cities hosting a Global Day of Action event, we invite you to join us at Nigeria’s Embassies and High Commissions and lend your voice on Friday, March 7.
Human rights supporters in the Washington, D.C. area can attend the rally from 11am to 1pm at Nigeria’s Embassy to the United States. Those in the New York City area can attend the demonstration, also from 11am to 1pm, at the Consulate General of Nigeria.
U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay condemned the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act as “draconian,” declaring, “Rarely have I seen a piece of legislation that in so few paragraphs directly violates so many basic, universal human rights.”
The law violates Nigeria’s own constitutional guarantees of the rights to free expression and assembly and to protection from discrimination. Its passage represents the largest restriction of fundamental human rights in Nigeria since the end of the military dictatorship in 1999.
The act’s vague language poses a threat to all Nigerians, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The prohibition of all forms of domestic partnership is broad enough to encompass roommates and family members living together to save money – a critical issue in a country where the majority of citizens live on under a dollar a day.
The law’s other provisions endanger anyone who speaks up to support the rights of LGBT Nigerians, those accused of being LGBT by their acquaintances, or those working to provide HIV education or treatment services. Already, the law has prompted witch-hunts against those believed to be involved in same-sex relationships.
“Those arrested under this draconian new legislation must be released immediately and the charges against them dropped. Locking someone up for their sexual orientation violates the most basic human rights standards,” said Makmid Kamara, Amnesty International’s Nigeria Researcher.
“Reports that the police in one state are apparently drawing up lists of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community to target are extremely worrying.”
“The deeply repressive Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act must be withdrawn without delay. With the stroke of a pen, President Goodluck Jonathan has essentially turned Nigeria into one of the world’s least tolerant societies,” according to Kamara.