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
“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
“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
In England, strong condemnation of the proposed
legislation came today from the