One Equal World

What It Means To Be Gay in Nigeria

Posted on: May 28, 2013

As of 2012, all LGBT people and allies can be jailed, fined, and even executed.

As of 2012, all LGBT people and allies can be jailed, fined, and even executed.
Image: Shutterstock

With France becoming the 14th nation to adopt a marriage equality law, why are so many other countries lagging behind?  Further, why does Nigeria actually seem to be sliding backward?  Could it actually be a dangerous place to be gay?

In November of 2012, Nigeria adopted laws to jail all gays and those who hide them.  The law passed in the Senate and the House of Representatives.  This law not only makes it illegal to be gay, but it also extends the danger to those who try to help them.

If somebody is found to have hidden somebody who is gay, they can be jailed for five years.

Prior to the passage of this law, gay sex was already illegal and punishable by the death penalty in the north part of the country.  This law pushes for even more.

Nigeria is on the inner western coast of Africa.

Nigeria is on the inner western coast of Africa.

If a gay couple marries, they can be punished by 14 years in jail, and those in attendance could also be imprisoned.

Speaking about same-sex marriage during the debate, house majority leader Mulikat Adeola-Akande said, “It is alien to our society and culture and it must not be imported. Religion abhors it and our culture has no place for it.”

Some worry that the law could lead to a witch-hunt and that political leaders could use it to accuse their opponents of being gay to eliminate their competition.

Many blame imported religion on the passage of this law.  Christians now make up 50.8% of the population of Nigeria.  As such, many believe being gay is a sin.

"We are not ILLEGAL. We are full Citizens of NIGERIA."

“We are not ILLEGAL. We are full Citizens of NIGERIA.”
Photo: Elizabeth Whitman/IPS

However, not everyone in Nigeria believes gays should be imprisoned.  There are groups fighting against the legislation such as The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIER) who believe the law could deter the fight against AIDS and garner hatred.

Other nations around the world are speaking out against the anti-gay law.  Australia, the United States and other countries have been quick to slam the legislation and stand up in support of gays and lesbians.  They hope to see the law abandoned and new laws in support of marriage equality instituted.

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1 Response to "What It Means To Be Gay in Nigeria"

Ironically, Christianity is an imported religion for Nigeria.

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