President Muhammadu Buhari, has been urged to take a cue from the United State and cancel the same sex marriage prohibition Act of 2014.
This comes days after the Supreme Court of the United States of America finally legalised same sex marriage throughout the whole country.
In a report on Sahara Reporters, specifically aimed to attack the “Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act of 2014”, leading human rights organisations, PEN America and PEN Nigeria urged President Buhari to scrap the law as it encourages evictions, mob attacks, police torture, and public whippings against gays.
The report called for Buhari to repeal laws that legalise discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and people who are inter-sex and transgender.
This was disclosed by the PEN Executive Director, Suzanne Nossel, in the report titled “Silenced Voices, Threatened Lives: The Impact of Nigeria’s Anti-LGBTI Law on Freedom of Expression.”
She said: “The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act of 2014 punishes gay relationships with 14 years in prison and belonging to a gay associations with 10 years in prison. It also criminalizes a failure to report homosexual activity to police which threatens the friends and families of gays living in Nigeria.
“Nigerian human rights groups have documented 105 violations against gays including assaults, mob attacks, and blackmail since the passage of the law. One case in Bauchi, an undercover police officer joined a group being counseled about AIDS pretending to be gay. He arrested the 38 men there, tortured them, and provided their names to the public, leading to a witch-hunt. Many gay people fled Bauchi as a result of this incident.
“The anti-gay law, while purporting to target same sex marriage, has infringed upon rights to free speech, access to health care, housing, and employment, interfered with civil and political rights, and led to wholesale impunity for violence against LGBTI people.
“LGBTI Nigerians cannot express their identities, write or publish about their experiences, or even advocate for their own human rights.”
She added: “The law is essentially self-enforcing, barring most challenges to its own legality as prohibited LGBTI advocacy and effectively legalizing vigilante justice against gay individuals.
“Free expression of one’s own identity and opinions is the bedrock of all human rights. Where this right is denied, all forms of personal freedom are in jeopardy—for not just the LGBTI community, but also the population at-large.”
The group also argued that the anti-gay law distracts local populations from prevalent problems like poverty, corruption, and failed education systems under the banner of “uniting in homophobia.”
Despite protests from some countries, groups and activists, former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act into law in 2014.
Some foreign embassies were shocked by the development leading to ‘curious’inquiries from the federal government, but despite the inquiries, the FG said there was no going back.
The bill which was passed by the Senate in November 2011, and affirmed by lawmakers in the House of Representatives on May 29, 2013.
According to former president Jonathan, the decision to pass the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act of 2014, is owing to the fact that most Nigerians were opposed to the bill, saying the parliament acted in line with the wish of the majority.