Draconian draft Nigerian law would criminalise LGBT persons and human rights defenders

06.06.2013

(Geneva – 6 June 2013) A draconian bill passed by the Nigerian House of Representatives would have wide-ranging impact on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and must not be signed into law, says the International Service for Human Rights. 

 

(Geneva – 6 June 2013) A draconian bill passed by the Nigerian House of Representatives would have wide-ranging impact on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and must not be signed into law, says the International Service for Human Rights. 

‘International human rights law and standards make it abundantly clear that discrimination against individuals on any ground, which includes sexual orientation and gender identity, is prohibited’, said Dr Heather Collister of ISHR. ‘If this bill passes into law, Nigeria will be in flagrant violation of its international human rights commitments.’

The broad provisions in the bill would criminalise not only same-sex relationships (punishable by a 14 year prison term) but also those who ‘witness or abet’ a same-sex union. While the bill is presented as outlawing same-sex marriage, it defines ‘marriage’ so broadly that any two people of the same gender who live together would be liable to be targeted.

A coalition of Nigerian human rights defenders, in a statement released earlier this week, condemned the bill, and pointed to the likely ‘increased rate of harassment, witch-hunt and vindictive accusations which will impact on every Nigerian’.

‘Bills such as this serve to stigmatise same-sex relations and increase the incidence of homophobic violence and harassment,’ said Dr Collister.

The far-reaching implications of the bill do not stop there. Under its provisions, anyone who ‘registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations’, or who ‘support’ LGBT groups, processions or meetings, would be liable for up to 10 years in prison.

‘The bill is manifestly incompatible with the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, all of which are fundamental pillars of a safe, secure and democratic society,’ said Dr Collister.

Alarmingly, the bill also contains a provision which would make it a criminal offence to advocate or lobby against the law itself.

‘In addition to targeting same-sex relations, the bill targets the work of human rights defenders, effectively criminalising their work,’ Dr Collister said. ‘Human rights defenders play a crucial role in advocating for the acceptance of human rights and freedoms, and attempts to silence their voice are attacks on the very foundations of a democratic and inclusive society.’

ISHR joins Nigerian human rights defenders and others in calling for the bill to be immediately withdrawn from consideration. 

Contact: Heather Collister h.collister@ishr.ch or +41 799 20 38 05

Category:

Topic
  • LGBT rights
  • NGOs
Mechanism
  • National HRDs laws/policies
Country
  • Nigeria