Euro MEPs Gay Rights Intergroup Concerned By Draft Nigerian Law


Attempt to write fear and hatred into legislation” – Cashman


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BRUSSELS, February 15, 2007  –  The controversial draft law that is currently going through the Nigerian legislative process would violate basic human rights, the European Parliament’s ‘Intergroup’ on gay and lesbian rights reiterated today.

Titled 'Act to Make Provisions for the Prohibition of Relationship Between Persons of the Same Sex, Celebration of Marriage by Them, and for Other Matters Connected Therewith’, the legislation would, if passed, be in violation of Nigeria’s international commitments under the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) framework.

“We’re very concerned to see this law remain on the agenda of the Nigerian legislature,” Michael Cashman (UK), president of the Intergroup commented.

“Nigeria should see this law for what it is – an attempt to write fear and hatred into legislation.

“It would be a dangerous, saddening precedent with immediate negative repercussions not only for the Nigerian LGBT community but for the whole of Nigeria,” Mr. Cashman added.

Intergroup vice president Raul Romeva i Rueda (Spain) has just returned from a visit to Kenya where he managed to meet with the LGBT community to discuss human rights in Africa.

And he warned that the proposed law would raise serious questions of Nigeria’s commitment to the Cotonou Agreement, which was signed by the ACP and the European Union in Cotonor, Benin, in 2002.

“Respect for human rights is an essential element of this agreement and it could be seen as grounds for suspension if this law goes through,” he said.

“UN jurisprudence is absolutely clear on this – the criminalisation of same-sex relations is undeniably a violation of universal human rights,” he emphasised.

Sophie in’t Veld (Netherlands) confirmed that the Intergroup was planning to raise the issue within the European Parliament.

“We have already been closely monitoring the situation,” she said.  “It is now clear that despite raising this issue with President Obasanjo, little is being done to stop the progression of this law.

“We intend to mobilise MEPs and other European politicians to make sure they too encourage Nigeria to continue honouring its commitments to international standards of human rights by rejecting this proposal.”

Alexander Stubb (Finland) highlighted his hope that both the Council of Ministers and the European Commission would also join in this mobilisation.

“In the context of our continued ACP dialogue, the Council and the Commission have a role to play to raise the issue of human rights and raise the concerns linked to this contentious law.

“It is useless to have the essential element clauses if we are not going to invoke them.  We need to ensure the laws of the signatories to Cotonou meet the standards of human rights agreed by the United Nations General Assembly.

“We remain committed to doing our part in ensuring that Nigeria does not join the unfortunate list of countries who continue to criminalise same-sex relations.”

The proposed legislation would make it illegal to be openly gay and to practise gay/lesbian sex, with punishment when convicted of up to five years imprisonment.  The law would also make it a criminal offence for anyone to have contact with a homosexual, reports from Abuja say.

In England, strong condemnation of the proposed legislation came today from the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA).

Persecution is not too strong a word for it,” said George Broadhead, the GALHA secretary.

Lives will be lost and terrible injustice legalised if this law is passed.  It violates the whole concept of human rights and there can be no doubt that it is being driven and justified by a wave of religious hatred.

The Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, whose ambition is to lead the Anglican Communion in place of Rowan Williams, is [...] strongly in favour of the legislation.

He has shown himself to be a monstrous homophobe and his disgusting defamatory comments about gay people add to the flames that this law will ignite against Nigeria's gay population, Mr. Broadhead said.

■  The Cotonou Agreement




Posted: 15 February 2007 at 14:30 (UK time)