HRC Blog

Nigeria Passes Sweeping Anti-LGBT Legislation

Post submitted by Jane WothayaThirikwa, HRC Global Engagement Fellow.

On December 17th, the Senate of Nigeria passed the 'Same-sex marriage (prohibition) bill', criminalizing public displays of affection between same-gender partners and anyone arguing in favor of LGBT people's human rights.

The billed is being hailed by some as “the world’s broadest law cracking down on LGBT rights.”

First introduced in 2006 and known as the same-sex marriage prohibition bill imposes stiff penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment for "any person who registers operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations directly or indirectly…. shall be liable to up to 5 years' imprisonment”.

No human rights group had ever demanded for same-sex marriage in Nigeria, and the country’s Penal Code already punishes consensual same-sex activity with fourteen years in prison or death in 12 northern states under Sharia law. This bill is clearly intended to further marginalize an already marginalized LGBT community.

Today December 20th, the Ugandan Parliament passed the 'Anti-homosexuality bill’ that punishes "aggravated homosexuality" with life imprisonment.  Both bills now await their presidents’ respective assent.

If signed into law, both bills compound the already difficult situation for LGBT persons in both African states.  If they come to effect, they will outlaw any LGBT-related clubs, associations, meetings or marches, and criminalize the aiding, abetting or even witnessing of such events. This is a clampdown on freedoms of assembly and expression that makes it even more difficult to advocate for change.

HRC is speaking to advocates in both Uganda and Nigeria to see how best stand with their movements.

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