Behind the Mask LGBT African website
February 15, 2011 – Human Rights Watch
LGBT Africans Face Blackmail and Extortion on a Regular Basis – Homophobic Laws and Social Stigma to Blame
(Johannesburg) Antiquated laws against same-sex sexual activity as well as deeply ingrained social stigma result in the all-too-frequent targeting of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Africa for blackmail and extortion, said the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) in a report launched today.
The report, Nowhere to Turn: Blackmail and Extortion of LGBT People in Sub-Saharan Africa, illustrates how LGBT Africans are made doubly vulnerable by the criminalization of homosexuality and the often-violent stigmatization they face if their sexuality is revealed. Based on research from 2007 to the present, the volume features articles and research by leading African activists and academics on the prevalence, severity and impact of these human rights violations on LGBT people in Cameroon, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe.
"The tragic reality is that blackmail and extortion are part of the daily lives of many LGBT Africans who are isolated and made vulnerable by homophobic laws and social stigma," says IGLHRC’s Executive Director, Cary Alan Johnson. "The responsibility clearly lies with governments to address these crimes and the underlying social and legal vulnerability of LGBT people."
The report’s authors vividly depict the isolation, humiliation and manipulation to which LGBT people are subjected by blackmailers and extortionists and describe the threats of exposure, theft, assault, and rape, that can damage and even destroy the lives of victims. Vulnerability to these crimes is faced on a regular basis and families and communities are not safe havens. For example, according to research conducted in Cameroon and featured in the report, "the bulk of blackmail and extortion attempts were committed by other members of the community – 33.9% by neighbors, 11.8% by family members, 11.5% by classmates, and 14.1% by homosexual friends. Police were often complicit in this – either by ignoring or dismissing it or, in 11.5% of cases, directly perpetrating it."
Nowhere to Turn explores the role the State plays in these crimes by ignoring blackmail and extortion carried out by police and other officials by failing to prosecute blackmailers, and by charging LGBT victims under sodomy laws when they do find the courage to report blackmail to the authorities. IGLHRC urges States to take concrete steps to reduce the incidence of these crimes by decriminalizing same-sex sexual activity, educating officials and communities about blackmail laws, and ensuring that all people are able to access judicial mechanisms without prejudice.
For more information, please contact:
Chivuli Ukwimi (IGLHRC, in Cape Town)
(27) 79-443-3938 – email
Jessica Stern (IGLHRC, in New York)
(+1) 212-430-6014 – email
Sam Cook (IGLHRC, in Johannesburg)
14 April 2011 – LGBT Asylum News
Nigerian newspaper warns gay asylum seeker that ‘jungle justice’ awaits if UK returns him next Wednesday
by Paul Canning
A gay asylum seeker, Uche Nnabuife, which the UK plans to remove Wednesday 20 April has been directly threatened with death according to an article in a Nigerian newspaper. The newspaper ‘National Times’ is published in Makurdi, capital of Benue State in North-central Nigeria, but circulates nationally. According to Rev Rowland Jide Macauley, a gay Nigerian priest and activist based in London but who travels to Nigeria, the threat "will circulate".
The article said that Nnabuife would be subjected to "jungle justice" if returned and "his body would not be found." It claimed that a movement existed against the return of gay Nigerians headed by Toyin Adelaja. It said that "homosexuality is abhorred by the Nigerian populace and there is no law protecting those who practice it."
"This is an important media report on the negative onslaught of LGBT people in Nigeria. ‘Jungle Justice’ in Nigeria is a serious problem, people take the laws into their own hands and for the headline to read such, we truly have to give this all the possible worst interpretation. This is similar to the Uganda ‘Hang them’ newspaper report and I believe we should do more, act on this because no one is safe with the newspaper actions. This is a clear incitement of hatred towards gay people."
A number of Ugandan tabloids have published pictures and names of addresses of people, including non-gay people, named as gay or lesbian and subsequent attacks on them have been documented by human rights organisations.
Nnabuife has also been personally targeted in comments on the Internet.
24 April 2011 – The Guardian
Nigeria’s gay church is reborn amid a climate of fear – House of Rainbow church offers underground prayer and preaching to Christians ostracised by rampant homophobia
by Shyamantha Asokan in Lagos
When Ade’s aunt learned he was gay, the then 16-year-old Nigerian was made to go through an exorcism to expel "the demon of homosexuality". "The priest came to the house with candles, holy water and anointing oils. I had to kneel down, holding candles in my hands," recalls Ade, now 25, as he sits in a cafe in Lagos. He does not wish to reveal his full name. "He kept shouting ‘Come out! Come out! Come out!’ in a fevered voice … I was allowed to go back to church after that but I had to pretend to be straight."
In a country where homosexuality is punishable by up to 14 years in prison, it is no surprise that many of Ade’s friends – those who, like him, are both gay and religious – stay away from church altogether for fear of being outed. However, an alternative could soon be at hand. Ade is helping to resurrect a religious refuge for himself and his friends. He is part of the team restarting House of Rainbow, the country’s only gay church, which was forced to close in 2008 after a witch-hunt stirred by exposés in local newspapers.
The Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay, the gay minister who founded the church, is leading the comeback even though he remains in self-imposed exile in London. "Religion is a backbone to life in Nigeria, so we all want to go to church," he says. "But we don’t want to lie to God about who we are." Macaulay first set up House of Rainbow in 2006, when he openly held Sunday services in a Lagos hotel hall decked out with rainbow flags. A public backlash culminated in members being beaten as they left church. Macaulay fled to the UK after death threats.
This year, he has recruited a small team that includes Ade as his local leader in Lagos. In his voluntary role, Ade started holding prayer sessions and Bible study groups at his house at the end of last month. A full church might be set up again if it is considered safe. The project could even spread beyond the borders of Africa’s most populous country. Macaulay has recently recruited a local leader in Accra, the capital of nearby Ghana. He is considering applications from Rwanda and Zimbabwe. Religious groups are central to Nigeria’s culture of homophobia. Pentecostalism, an evangelical school of Christianity thought to have started in America just over a century ago, has blossomed in southern Nigeria and across Africa in recent decades. The "megachurches" in and around Lagos can attract tens of thousands of worshippers to a single service.
June 2011 – IGLHRC
Nowhere to Turn
New York – In January 2011, IGLHRC released the report, Nowhere to Turn: Blackmail and Extortion of LGBT People in Sub-Saharan Africa. The report, already well-received by organizations across Africa, illustrates how LGBT Africans are made doubly vulnerable by the criminalization of homosexuality and the often-violent stigmatization they face if their sexuality is revealed. Based on research from 2007 to the present, the volume features articles and research by leading African activists and academics on the prevalence, severity and impact of these human rights violations on LGBT people in Cameroon, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe.
Read the complete 140-page report: Nowhere to Turn: Blackmail and Extortion of LGBT People in Sub-Saharan Africa.
22 June 2011 – PinkNews
Nigerian women’s football team ‘eradicates lesbianism’
by Jessica Geen
The Nigerian women’s football team says it has successfully banned homosexuality among players. Coach Eucharia Uche claims that since she was hired in 2009, she has eradicated homosexuality from the squad. Speaking to the New York Times, Uche, who is married with two children, said lesbianism was “morally very wrong” and “a dirty issue”. She said she discovered which players were lesbians through rumours and brought in Pentecostal ministers to pray with the team.
Uche, a former Nigeria player, said: “The issue of lesbianism is common “I came to realise it is not a physical battle; we need divine intervention in order to control and curb it. I tell you it worked for us. This is a thing of the past. It is never mentioned.” Uche first declared she had rid the team of homosexuality in an interview with the Nigerian Daily Sun in March.
In the same article, James Peters, a former technical assistant for the country’s soccer federation, claimed he had sacked some players from the national team for being lesbians. Peters said: : “Having coached female teams in the US, I have an in-depth knowledge about how lesbians operate. When I was drafted to work with the Falcons last year, I decamped some of the players, not because they were not good players, but because they were lesbians. It did not go down well with some of the players because we made sure that neither the ‘husband’ nor the ‘wife’ made the team,” he said.
July 11th, 2011 – Behind The Mask
Nigeria’s LGBT Community Prepare To Challenge State Fof Their Rights
by Akoro Joseph Sewedo, Arcus Correspondent
In recent weeks, the struggle to enhance LGBT rights in Nigeria has shifted to mobilizing the community instead of conventional advocacy. Activists are now targeting their campaigns at the homosexual community instead of at establishments such as the media, human rights lawyers and other civil society organizations. This strategy could soon see the LGBT community challenge the authorities. The change has come about as a result of efforts by the Initiative for Equal Rights in partnership with Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights, who recently held a workshop for the LGBT community in Lagos state.
The workshop, which attracted 29 participants, was aimed at facilitating community mobilization and empowerment to enhance LGBT activism in Nigeria. “Over the years, TIERs has organized sensitisation workshops for human rights lawyers and media personnel and now we think that mobilizing the affected community and empowering them with advocacy skills is the way to go,” Olumide Makanjuola, TIERs programme director said.
“The training helped to reinforce the importance of community involvement in planning or implementing projects. Some members of the community are stronger and can be leaders in the follow up of the project implementation. The importance of monitoring and documenting human rights violations in the LGBT community as a step towards attaining better human rights for member of the community was clearer,” said Ekene Okwuegbunam, TIERs’ security protection officer who also happens to be a lawyer by profession.
“Furthermore,” he added, “several events are expected to ride on the back of the human rights training. It is expected that this training will lead to, community enlightenment activities on human rights education, monitoring and documentation of human rights violations by community members, training of trainers on monitoring and documentation, setting up of a human rights creative club society and exploring new human rights education strategies For instance, film, drama, song, poetry and other information education and communication materials.”
This strategy implored by TIERs shows that in the face of stigma and discrimination by the authorities, the homosexual community in Lagos State is preparing to confront the status quo
July 25th, 2011 – Behind The Mask
Nigeria’s LGBT Community Discover A Safe Space
Nigeria’s LGBT community has discovered a safe space in the comfort of the community centre set up by the Integrated MSM HIV Prevention Program (IMHIPP) currently being implemented in four states across the country. Funded by USAID, Heartland Alliance for Human need and Human rights partner with the following local organizations; The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERS), Pure Professionals for Human Rights Advocacy, Initiative for Improved Male Health and International Centre for the Advocacy of Health Rights. The four states are, Lagos, Rivers, Cross River states and the FCT, Abuja.
Temitope Olaniyi Oke the Program officer TIERS/IMHIPP, said, “Criminalization of same sex activity in Nigeria has resulted in Men who have Sex Men (MSM) hiding their sexual identity. They lack safe spaces to freely express their sexuality, share information on MSM specific information, and address issues of low self-esteem, stigma and discrimination. They are continuously faced with difficulty in accessing educational programs that can help mitigate the burden of HIV/Aids and STIs. Realising the need to create an enabling environment for MSM to freely express themselves, it became essential to create a safe space for MSM hence the Community Centre.”
Oke added, “Through this program, IMHIPP has created a Community Centre. Based upon needs assessment the Centre has three units. These are a social interaction unit, a skill acquisition unit and a healthcare unit to target MSM to address economical and social needs. These units are managed by Outreach Coordinators and supervised by the Program Officer.” Although the centre was established under a MSM/HIV program, it is open to LGBTI persons in general. The community centre has been of immense benefits to the MSM community. The centre has created a safe, fun and enabling environment for MSM to freely embrace and express their sexuality void of stigma and discrimination. It is packed with up to date materials focusing on healthy relationships, sexual rights, social activities, HIV/STI prevention and transmission, and vulnerability issues.
Movies are shown on a weekly basis to educate MSM/LGBTI persons on human right issues, HIV/Aids and human sexuality. Female sexual partners and dependants also benefit from the services of the community centre. Support group of MSM living with HIV/Aids is also hosted at the centre to increase access to psychosocial/ adherence counselling and palliative care materials. A community centre user expressed “I am a beneficiary of the community centre activities. Now I make beads for living. Thanks to the skill acquisition activity at the centre.”
“I like it here it is my second home” Another community centre user told BTM. Activities at the centre serve as a platform to increase awareness on HIV/Aids prevention, palliative care and support to MSM living with HIV/Aids and promoting a healthy LGBT community.
July 26th, 2011 – Behind The Mask
Nigerian MSM Gain Easier Access To Health Care Via NGO
Some of Nigeria’s MSM are finding it easier to gain access to treatment since the provision of health care services covering LGBT people began in the capital Abuja earlier this year. In April 2011, the International Centre for Advocacy on Right to Health (ICARH) a registered Nigerian non-governmental organization set up a health clinic in response to LGBT health care service provision in Abuja. With funding from the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), ICARH collaborates with the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) with the aim to provide comprehensive sexual health care for LGBT persons in Abuja.
Ifeanyi Orazulike, ICARH Executive Director, informed BTM, “The project has recorded a significant success since inception. The challenges of accessing health care especially HIV/Aids have reduced drastically within the MSM community in Abuja.” He added “Unlike in the past when it was very difficult for MSM to access HIV and other health care services in other health facilities because of stigma and discrimination associated with homosexuality and same sex practice, they (MSM) now feel more comfortable coming to ICARH’s facility to access HIV and other health care services.” The clinic is being managed by a team of five staff members of ICARH, comprising a Nurse and Case Manager, two Care and Support officers and two M&E (record) officers. In addition are two volunteer doctors from Garki Hospital who take turn to come and help out on clinic days. Of all the people working in the clinic only two people are being paid; the Nurse Case Manager and one Care and Support Officer, every other person is working voluntarily.
ICARH’s program officer, Kadiri Audu, spoke of the achievements thus far saying, “Since the inception of the clinic in April; 105 clients (MSM) have accessed HCT service, out of which 52 tested positive and 53 negative. Out of the 52 that tested positive, 47 have been enrolled in to care and 11 are on ARVs.” He added, “The extension of the clinic is yet to be done and this has affected the work flow process which at times even causes distress to the clients, in addition most of the equipment provided by IHVN is yet to be operational due to lack of space which ultimately affects the quality of services provided.”
Audu said, “Nutritional supplements, prophylaxis, pain killers and pain medications are inadequate, salaries for more permanent staff since most of the people working in the clinic are working on volunteer basis.” The services provided at the clinic include but are not limited to, HIV Counselling and Testing, provision of Anti Retroviral Drugs, palliative care and treatment of other common illness such as Malaria and Typhoid. There are also plans to begin STI syndromic management soon.
August 2011 – ILGA
How new law may impact Lgbt rights in the country
Nigeria’s new law on Freedom of Information (FOI) may impact positively on LGBT rights advocacy in the country. The law will address the situation of corruption and promote good governance, which is a foundation for the protection of fundamental human rights. LGBT rights activists could leverage on the provision of the new law to improve on their research and documentation of human rights violations on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. Records of discrimination especially those perpetrated by state actors can be required by any Nigerian citizen without demonstrating specific interest in the information.
Section 2 provides that: “(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act but notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act, Law or Regulation, every citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has a legally enforceable right to, and shall, on application be given access to any record under the control of a government or public institution.
(2) An applicant herein need not demonstrate specific interest in the information being applied for.
(3) For the purpose of this Act, any record applied for under this Act that does not exist in print but can by regulation be produced from a machine, normally used by the government or public institution shall be deemed to be record under the control of the Government or public institution.”
This law seeks to provide a right of access to public information or records kept by government, public institution or private bodies carrying out public functions for citizens and non-citizens of the country. Furthermore it will increase the availability of public records and information to citizens of the country in order to participate more effectively in the making and administration of laws and policies and to promote accountability of public officers. The Bill, which was signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan on June 2, 2011, spent about 11 years in the National Assembly. The law would not have seen the light of day without the persistent advocacy of media groups and other civil society organizations.
Before it passage into law, the bill saw relentless advocacy at the domestic and regional level mostly at the sessions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
August 4th, 2011 – Behind The Mask
Nigerian NGO Steps In To Train LGBT Advocates In West Africa
by Akoro Joseph Sewedo, Arcus Correspondent
The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs) has taken up the challenge to develop advocacy skills amongst NGOs in the field of LGBT rights across the West African sub-region. TIERs recently issued a call for interested persons willing to develop skills in LGBT rights advocacy and able to work with organizations working to protect the rights of LGBT persons in their respective countries. The NGO made the move in an effort to fill a gap in the LGBT rights advocacy movement.
Selected applicants will be engaged in an intensive one-week training on human sexuality, gender, advocacy and organizational management. In addition, they will be attached to LGBT organizations in Anglophone West-African countries for at least a year of service. According to the findings of an assessment conducted by TIER, “The average annual financial turnover of organizations assessed is less than $50,000. Only three donor organizations all based in the United States provide direct financial support to LGBT rights organizations in the sub-region and they provide funding of not more than $15,000.
“This funding limitation has frustrated and shifted many of the organization’s focus from LGBT rights to MSM/HIV programming. Only one of the six organizations assessed in the sub-regional has an on-going LGBT human rights program albeit an inconsistent funding.” Thus, TIERs is responding to these gaps, “ensuring the effective operation of organizations that respond adequately to the needs of LGBT persons at the grass root.” said Olumide Makanjuola, the TIERs Programme Director
He added, “TIERs shall work with local organizations to conduct a comprehensive community consultation that will clearly define the issues face by LGBT persons at the grass root and how they can be addressed effective. “In addition, TIERs will work with regional partners in reviewing strategic plan, update capacity building plan and seek new partnership and collaborations.”
This initiative is a project of Global Equality Network (GEN) coordinated by Heartland Alliance for Human needs and Human Rights. GEN is a consortium of four organizations from the global south. Member organizations represent; the Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America.
August 11th, 2011 – Behind The Mask
Nigerian LGBT Organization Begins Internship Program
A Nigeria LGBT organization, The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs) has begun a five-month internship program for three young LGBT persons in Lagos state, Nigeria. Funded by the American Jewish World Service, TIERs has established an internship program that is aimed at developing the potentials of young LGBT persons in any of their chosen career or vocation. In addition, develop their organizational or project management skills.
“These interns will be working with all units of TIERs from August –December 2011. The Objective of this internship is to groom members of the LGBT community in life and career skills that can position them to take up leadership in the community and in their lives.” said Ekene Okwuegbunam, TIERs’ Security Protection Officer and Human Rights program associate. Therefore it is intended that they benefit from a range of competencies and experience from all of TIERs units.” Okwuegbunam said.
The internship program is in two phases and will have three persons for each phase. The current phase welcomed two males and one female as pioneering interns. They began on Monday, August 8 with a formal orientation of the TIERs as an organization. All interns will work directly at different times as assigned in the Human Rights and Sexual health unit of TEIRs, and will be assigned various duties by the associate of that department; interns will however have collective activities and duties that they will be assigned on a needs basis.
Interns will be expected to build skills in the following area: Proposal writing, report writing, program budgeting, project design and implementation, community mobilization and organizing, data collection and analysis and administration. Interns will submit a monthly progress report by the 25th of every month of the internship period, and a final report by December 16, 2011. Upon conclusion of their internship program, each intern will submit a project plan for technical assistance from TIERs.
August 29th, 2011 – Behind The Mask
African Lesbians Launch West African LGBT Human Rights Defenders Project
Friday August 26, 2011 saw the Coalition of African Lesbians, CAL, launch its LGBT Human Rights Defenders, HRD project in Lagos, Nigeria. Participants in the HRD workshop, which was held in collaboration with The Initiative for Equal Rights, TIER, a Nigerian-based LGBT human rights organization, attended the launch alongside some members of the Lagos LGBT community. “The human rights defenders project was inspired by the violence faced by LGBT HRDs especially in countries where there are laws prohibiting same-sex relationship and the advocacy of their rights” said Victor Mukasa, the CAL HRD Project coordinator. “Instances of this violence include the murder of David Kato of Uganda and FannyAnn Viola Eddy of Sierra Leone to mention a few,” Mukasa said.
With funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SIDA, CAL has already sets up a safe house for LGBT human rights defenders in Johannesburg, South Africa. “The safe home is not only open to activists in times of crises but also open when they are crashing mentally. We encourage the mental stability of activists and promote their psycho-social welfare by also admitting them into the safe home at CAL’s expense,” said Mukasa.
The human rights defenders project has now been launched in West Africa and activity will spread soon to the Eastern and Southern Africa regions.
September 14, 2011 – IRMA
Persecuted for Being Gay
In 2002, I was at university in Nigeria and standing for election. A magazine wrote about me and exposed me as being gay. This led the university to set up a disciplinary committee. I was very nearly dismissed. When I did graduate, people wanted to refuse me my certificate on the grounds that I did not have good enough morals to be an alumnus of the university. While this was going on, the then-president, Olusegun Obasanjo, declared that there were no homosexuals in Nigeria, and that such a thing would not be allowed in the country.
I talked with a friend of mine, who is a famous Nigerian talkshow host, about challenging this opinion. Nobody had come out publicly before. So, in October 2004, I appeared on her breakfast show, New Dawn with Funmi Iyanda". I talked about my sexuality, the burden of the HIV epidemic in the gay community.
The reaction was immediate and violent. I was subjected to brutality from the police and the community. I was disowned by my family and lost many friends, including in the gay community. They were afraid to know me. I was isolated, with no support and no job. The TV show was taken off the air by the government. It led to the introduction of the Same Sex Prohibition bill of 2006. All I had done was say who I was. Three years later I appeared on the BBC World Service. I repeated what I had said on television in Nigeria and suggested my government was using attacks on homosexuality to help cover up its own corruption.
On my arrival back to Nigeria, I was arrested, detained and beaten by the police. For a month, until I fled back to the UK in April 2007, my life was in constant danger…
Read the complete story.
September 28th, 2011 – Box Turtle Bulletin
Nigeria Make Another Stab At Additional Prison Penalties for Same-Sex Marriage
by Jim Burroway
The West African country whose over-reaching attempt in 2009 to impose severe penalties on human rights advocacy and free association for its LGBT citizens under the guise of “banning” same sex marriage was met with international alarm from human rights activists, is at it again. The Nigerian Senate debated a bill yesterday which would make entering into a same-sex marriage a criminal offense, with three years’ imprisonment for couples convicted of being married, and five years’ imprisonment for anyone who “witnesses, abets and aides” the solemnization of the marriage. Homosexuality is already a criminal offense in Nigeria, where it carries a penalty of fourteen years imprisonment in the south and capital punishment in areas in the north which are under Sharia Islamic Law. Nigeria’s The Daily Times reports that the bill passed it first reading on July 13, and that no Senators rose to oppose the bill during Tuesday’s debate.
It is unknown at this time what the exact provisions under the new law would be. The proposed 2009 law which ostensibly banned same-sex marriage went much further than simply addressing same sex marriage. The 2009 proposal, like its current incarnation, provided for a prison sentence of three years for anyone who has “entered into a same gender marriage contract,” and it also would have defined same-sex marriage as any gay couples found living together. Also like the new proposal, it also provided for five years’ imprisonment or a fine for anyone who “witnesses, abet and aids the solemnization” of a same-sex marriage. But the 2009 law also went much further, by making criminals of anyone working in organizations which advocate for gay rights. LGBT advocates point pointed out that the proposed bill law would punish those who “aids and abets” people to live together with a tougher sentence than the couple concerned.
It is unknown at this time what, if any, additional provisions are included in the current proposal. Spokesperson for the Nigerian Senate expect the bill to pass by the end of next year. The United States State Department have joined international human rights groups in strongly condemning the bill, pointing out that it would the freedoms of expression, association and assembly guaranteed by international law as well as by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The law would also impose an impediment to the struggle against the spread of AIDS in the oil-producing west African nation.
September 30th, 2011 – Behind The Mask
Nigeria Human Rights Defenders Condemn 2011 Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill
After hearing that Nigeria’s parliament is again considering a law seeking to prohibit same sex marriage, Nigerian human rights defenders have issued a statement of condemnation. The statement comes on the heels of the activities of Tuesday September 27 when Nigerian parliamentarians sat through the second reading of the bill as Nigerian senators described homosexuality as “ungodly, morally and religiously unacceptable.”
The full statement by the human rights defenders is below:
“We, the Coalition for the Defence of Sexual Rights were shocked and deeply concerned by the news published in the Nigerian press about the re-introduction of ‘A bill for an act to prohibition marriage between persons of same gender, solemnisation of same and for other matters related therewith’
“Similar bills appeared before the House in 2006 and 2008 and were critically analysed both times by human rights activists, who articulated the dangers of the bills to a democratic society.
“We wish to remind the parliament that Nigeria is a secular state. This means that the laws of our land cannot and should not be drafted and/or enacted on the basis of a particular religious and cultural value. These values already indicate the diversity of Nigeria as a heterogeneous society–hence our federal system of government.
“We as human rights defenders are aware that not a single gay group has asked for the right to marry. Our advocacy is not directed at that. We are advocating for tolerance and respect for everyone irrespective of his or her sex, gender, age, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation and gender identity, etc. These rights are not illusionary. They are rights that Nigeria’s same –sex loving people derive from Chapter IV of the Nigerian constitution, which lists the fundamental rights enjoyed by all Nigerians, including the rights to freedom from discrimination, to personal liberty, to human dignity, and to private life.
“Furthermore, we feel deeply threatened by the proposed paragraph 4(2) of the bill, which provides greater criminal liability to anyone who abets and aids same-sex marriage. An individual would face up to five years’ imprisonment.
“This provision clearly targets the activities of human right defenders, who have a mandate, without limitation, to defend the rights of people regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
“The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in its Article 7, specifically provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others to develop and discuss new human rights ideas and principles and to advocate their acceptance.”
The UN Secretary General’s Special Representative on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders has repeatedly expressed concern over attacks on defenders “who are at particular risk, namely those who defend the rights of indigenous people and minorities [and] lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons and women human rights defenders.” (UN Doc A/HRC/4/37, January 24, 2007, at 55).
“Already, in 2006, the Special Representative condemned the previous version of this bill in a letter to the Nigerian government. This bill would increase the risk to human rights defenders, and would violate Nigeria’s human rights obligations.
“As citizens and human rights defenders, we demand our rights. As tax-paying Nigerians, we demand the efficient use of our financial resources. We request the Senate to disregard this ominous bill, and consider instead discussing life saving legislation, including the Anti-Stigmatization bill and National Health Insurance bill.”
For more information contact:
Dorothy Aken’Ova – +2348034500714
Akoro Joseph Sewedo – +2347066622191
11 October 2011 – ILGA
Nigerian LGBT Plan To Expose Extortionists and Blackmailers
Nigeria – Extortion and blackmail continue to be weapons used against LGBT communities. Now a task force of concerned individuals has set up a new organisation to expose blackmailers and extortionists. Extortion and blackmail continue to be weapons used against LGBT communities. Such criminal acts are seen as an occupational hazard by gay men in cities such as Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja. Now a task force of concerned individuals has set up a new organisation to expose blackmailers and extortionists. They have established a blog www.lagosheat.wordpress.com, which exposes the criminals and their strategies. The blog is regularly updated and provides safer dating tips for visiting gay people.
The modus operandi of blackmailers and extortionists in Nigeria is generally consistent and often related to online dating. Perpetrators will often steal possessions such as laptops and mobile phones from victims and often get in touch later, promising to return the items in the exchange for money. Sometimes however they take the items and disappear. The perpetrators rely on fear amongst the victims. Victims of such crimes fear reporting the case to the police as they cannot be sure if it might backfire and that they will end up being arrested for having engaged in homosexual acts.LGBT rights activists have recently argued that blackmail and extortion are exacerbated by the criminalization of same-sex relationships. The vice is most common in countries, where homosexuality is illegal.
The Initiative for Equal Rights – an NGO based in Lagos also documents these abuses and Behind the Mask recently had access to these as yet unpublished documents and selected three case scenarios:
Clinton: Clinton is a businessman and lives in Lagos state with his uncle, who works for a law enforcement agency in Ejigbo Lagos state. On arrival in Lagos he searched for ways to meet other gay men and found an online gay dating site where he met another subscriber. After chatting for a while with him, Clinton invited the other subscriber to a hotel.
At the hotel after the two men had sex, Clinton visited the bathroom. Upon his return to the room, his “friend” was no longer in the room and Clinton realised that, he had been locked in the room.
Clinton tried to find his mobile phones but realised that both of them had been stolen by his “friend.” He also found the sum of 50,000 Naira (about US$350) missing.
Read complete article here
21 October 2011 – PinkNews
Nigeria seeks to strengthen anti-gay laws
by Jessica Geen
Lawmakers in Nigeria hope to pass a bill which strengthens laws against homosexuality. The legislation seeks to criminalise same-sex marriage. Its sponsor, Senator Domingo Obende, claimed that gay marriage is “spreading” and must be stopped. Nigeria already punishes homosexuality with up to 14 years in prison and gay marriage is not recognised in the country. The latest bill follows two previous attempts to strengthen anti-gay laws in 2006 and 2009. Plans were quietly dropped after international condemnation.
According to Nigerian gay rights campaigner Yemisi Ilesanmi, the bill has already passed its second reading. She said: “A public hearing is scheduled for Monday 31st October, 2011. However, there are concerns within the Nigerian LGBT community that the recent bomb blasts in the country could be used as a pretext to deny public access to the hearing.” Ms Ilesanmi added: “This bill would lead to harassment of people for their actual or imputed sexual orientation. It would also stifle freedom of expression and association through the proposed ban on organisations that support lesbian and gay rights. The passing of the bill would give official validation to the harassment of sexual minorities and many homophobic persons would use it as a licence to discriminate against lesbians and gays.”
Many senators have spoken out in support of the bill. Senator Victor Lar warned that same-sex marriage would lead to the end of the human race, while Senator Oluremi Tinubu said homosexuality causes “mental problems” in old age. Senator Obende said: “The legalisation of same-sex marriage in our country will make the next generation never to recover from the law of committed God fearing family. Same sex marriage is spreading and spreading round the whole world just like pornography and terrorism which has become the order of the day if not arrested on time.”
As well as criminalising gay marriage, the bill also criminalises anyone who “witnesses, abets and aids the solemnisation of a same gender marriage contract”.
October 2011 – Change.org
Nigeria: Stop the anti-same sex marriage bill, decriminalize same sex love!
by Yemisi Ilesanmi
Why this is Important
The Nigerian lawmakers are attempting to pass a bill titled “An Act to Prohibit Marriage between Persons of Same Gender, Solemnization Of Same And For Other Matters Related Therewith” The bill aims to further criminalized same sex relationship and marriage. Under Nigeria’s criminal code and penal code, consensual same sex conduct between adults is a criminal offense. Chapter 42, section 214 of Nigeria’s criminal code provides a sentence of fourteen years imprisonment for "carnal knowledge against the order of nature". The Sharia law, widely practiced in Northern Nigeria prescribed death penalty for homosexual conducts.
The proposed bill violates fundamental human rights that are guaranteed under the Nigerian constitution and various human rights international agreements that Nigeria is a signatory to. This bill could lead to political and social harassment of people for their actual or imputed sexual orientation. It could also stifle freedom of expression and association through the proposed ban on organizations that support Lesbians and gay rights.
The bill could further affect Nigeria Human rights records, many including the police would use it as a license to intimidate and harass citizens based on their actual or suspected sexual orientation. The passing of the bill would give official validation to the harassment of sexual minorities and many homophobic persons would use it as a license to discriminate against lesbians and gays. Hate crime are not uncommon in Nigeria.
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November 30, 2011 – CNN
Nigerian senate passes anti-gay bill, defying British aid threat
by Christian Purefoy and Faith Karimi, CNN
(CNN) – The Nigerian senate has passed a bill banning same-sex marriages, defying a threat from Britain to withhold aid from nations violating gay rights. The bill by Africa’s most populous nation calls for a 14-year sentence for anyone convicted of homosexuality. Anyone who aids or "abets" same-sex unions faces 10 years in prison, a provision that could target rights groups. It goes to the nation’s House of Representatives for a vote before President Goodluck Jonathan can sign it into law. "It would place a wide range of people at risk of criminal sanctions, including human rights defenders and anyone else — including friends, families and colleagues — who stands up for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people in Nigeria," Amnesty International said in a statement.
The bill passed Tuesday comes nearly a month after British prime minister, David Cameron, threatened to withhold aid from nations violating gays rights, sparking outrage in Africa where leaders interpreted it as "colonial" display of power. Homosexuality is illegal in most African countries based on remnants of sodomy laws introduced during the British colonial era and perpetuated by cultural beliefs.
Punishments across the continent range from fines to years in prison. "This is something we raise continually and … we’re also saying that British aid should have more strings attached in terms of ‘do you persecute people for their faith or their Christianity or do you persecute people for their sexuality?" Cameron said in a statement. "We don’t think that’s acceptable. So look, this is an issue where we want movement, we’re pushing for movement, we’re prepared to put some money behind what we believe."
Soon after his remarks earlier this month, a flurry of African governments released defiant statements accusing him of undermining their sovereignty and culture. Last week, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, known for his anti-gay rhetoric, called the prime minister "satanic" for demanding gay rights. "Do not get tempted into that (homosexuality) madness. You are young people. If you go that direction, we will punish you severely," state media quoted him as saying. "It is condemned by nature. It is condemned by insects and that is why I have said they are worse than pigs and dogs."
Mugabe’s comments were the latest in a series of strident remarks by African leaders. Ugandan government spokesman Fred Opolot described Cameron’s remarks as "patronizing, colonial rhetoric," saying the nation is busy expanding its oil sector to reduce its reliance on aid.
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November 30, 2011 – AP
Nigeria Senate approves anti-gay marriage bill
by Jon Gambrell, AP
Lagos, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria’s Senate voted Tuesday to criminalize gay marriage, gay advocacy groups and same-sex public displays of affection, the latest legislation targeting a minority already facing discrimination in Africa’s most populous nation. The bill, now much more wide-ranging than its initial draft, must be passed by Nigeria’s House of Representatives and signed by President Goodluck Jonathan before becoming law. However, public opinion and lawmakers’ calls Tuesday for even harsher penalties show the widespread support for the measure in the deeply religious nation. "Such elements in society should be killed," said Sen. Baba-Ahmed Yusuf Datti of the opposition party Congress for Progressive Change, drawing some murmurs of support from the gallery.
Gay sex has been banned in Nigeria, a nation of more than 160 million people, since colonial rule by the British. Gays and lesbians face open discrimination and abuse in a country divided by Christians and Muslims who almost uniformly oppose homosexuality. In the areas in Nigeria’s north where Islamic Shariah law has been enforced for about a decade, gays and lesbians can face death by stoning. Under the proposed law, couples who marry could face up to 14 years each in prison. Witnesses or anyone who helps couples marry could be sentenced to 10 years behind bars. That’s an increase over the bill’s initial penalties, which lawmakers proposed during a debate Tuesday televised live from the National Assembly in Nigeria’s capital Abuja.
Other additions to the bill include making it illegal to register gay clubs or organizations, as well as criminalizing the "public show of same-sex amorous relationships directly or indirectly." Those who violate those laws would face 10-year imprisonment as well. The increased penalties immediately drew criticism from human rights observers. "The bill will expand Nigeria’s already draconian punishments for consensual same-sex conduct and set a precedent that would threaten all Nigerians’ rights to privacy, equality, free expression, association and to be free from discrimination," said Erwin van der Borght, the director of Amnesty International’s Africa program.
Yet across the African continent, many countries already have made homosexuality punishable by jail sentences. Ugandan legislators introduced a bill that would impose the death penalty for some gays and lesbians, though it has not been passed into law two years later. Even in South Africa, the one country where gays can marry, lesbians have been brutally attacked and murdered. Nigeria’s proposed law has drawn the interest of European Union countries, some of which already offer Nigeria’s sexual minorities asylum based on gender identity. The British government recently threatened to cut aid to African countries that violate the rights of gay and lesbian citizens. However, British aid remains quite small in oil-rich Nigeria, one of the top crude suppliers to the U.S.
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December 4, 2011 – ABC News
Nigeria Anti-Gay Marriage Bill Risks AIDS Funding
by Yinka Ibukun, AP
A bill originally designed to outlaw gay marriage in Nigeria likely has consequences far beyond its initial scope — criminalizing gay groups and organizations could jeopardize millions of dollars of Western aid geared toward stopping the spread of HIV and AIDS in Africa’s most populous nation. Though an oil-rich nation, Nigeria likely cannot afford to scorn foreign aid in the fight against HIV/AIDS, experts say. Nigeria has the continent’s second highest number of people living with the disease, says the United Nations. More than 3 million people are infected with the disease and many do not know their status, according to U.N. estimates.
"There are about 400,000 people on anti-retrovirals in Nigeria at the moment and 95 percent of those are paid for by donor funds," Nigerian public health physician and health blogger Chikwe Ihekweazu told The Associated Press. Gay sex has been banned in Nigeria, a nation of more than 160 million people, since colonial rule by the British. Gays and lesbians face open discrimination and abuse in a country divided by Christians and Muslims who almost uniformly oppose homosexuality. In the areas in Nigeria’s north where Islamic Shariah law has been enforced for about a decade, gays and lesbians can face death by stoning.
Under the proposed law passed by Senate this week, couples who marry could face up to 14 years each in prison. Witnesses or anyone who helps couples marry could be sentenced to 10 years behind bars. The bill also punishes the "public show of same-sex amorous relationships directly or indirectly" with ten years in prison. A newly added portion of the bill, leveling 10 years in prison for those found guilty of organizing, operating or supporting gay clubs, organizations and meetings, worries advocates in Nigeria. They fear the law could be used against groups providing aid for HIV and AIDS outreach programs that traditionally consider gay men as an at-risk group.
"We work with them trying to reduce their risk factors, trying to make them more healthy and have safer sex practices," said Meyiwa Ede of the donor-funded public health organization Society for Family Health. "If we can’t work with them anymore, then they are vulnerable." But lawmakers playing to the deeply religious nation’s dislike of gays and lesbians have said donor nations who threaten to cut aid over the bill can keep their assistance, putting at risk the lives of people reliant on anti-retroviral drugs. The U.S. and U.K. governments funnel huge sums of money into Nigeria for AIDS and HIV outreach. The U.S. government, under the United States’ President Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, has given an average of $308 million dollars a year to groups working in HIV prevention, treatment, and support, according to the U.S. Consulate in Lagos.
The U.K. government spends an average of $31 million dollars a year on HIV/AIDS programs in Nigeria, the Abuja office of the U.K.’s Department for International Development said. Through local partners, the funding reaches heterosexuals, as well as gays and lesbians to combat the spread of HIV and AIDS. Heterosexual sex accounts for 80 percent of HIV transmissions in Nigeria, said the country’s National Agency for the Control of AIDS in a recent report. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron recently threatened to cut aid to African countries who discriminate against gays and lesbians. Advocates fear that could include the HIV nd AIDS funding.