Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Nigeria's Tough Stand on Homosex

The Nigerian bill prohibiting same-sex marriage or partnerships was signed into law on January 7, 2014, by President Goodluck Jonathan. The law criminalizes public displays of affection between same-sex couples and gay clubs and societies.

The law imposes a 14-year prison sentence on anyone who “[enters] into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union,” and a 10-year sentence on individuals or groups, including religious leaders, who “witness, abet, and aid the solemnization of a same-sex marriage or union.” It imposes a 10-year prison sentence on those who “directly or indirectly make public show of same-sex amorous relationship” and anyone who “registers, operates, or participates in gay clubs, societies, and organizations,” including supporters of those groups.

The law is be denounced as "draconian" by Human Rights Watch.

This law extends the criminal code in southern Nigeria, and the penal code in northern Nigeria, that impose up to a 14-year prison term for anyone who has “carnal knowledge” or “carnal intercourse” with any person “against the order of nature.”

In a country contentiously split among Muslims and Christians, leaders of Nigeria's mosques and churches are united in their condemnation of same-sex relationships. The Anglican Church of Nigeria opposes same-sex blessings, the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals and any homosexual practice. The Muslim community of Kano has maintained firm opposition to homosex and same-sex partnerships.

Britain and some other Western nations threaten to suspend aid to Nigeria and other countries where homosexuality is criminalized. They consider the laws discriminatory and grounded in bigotry and prejudice. In November, the European Union's top court ruled that gays and lesbians in countries that outlaw homosexual relations are eligible for asylum. Days later, the Malta Refugees Appeals Board granted asylum to an 18-year-old Nigerian teen.

Homosexual intimacy is criminalized in 78 countries, including 38 of 54 African countries. The death penalty is at play in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Sudan and Yemen as well as parts of Somalia.

The Pew Research Center's 2007 Global Attitudes Survey found that "people in Africa and the Middle East strongly object to societal acceptance of homosexuality." It should not come as a surprise that societies that value the traditions of their ancestors resist acceptance of homosexuality while societies that have largely set aside long standing traditions - Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and the United States - regard sexual boundaries to be less a matter of tradition and religion than of social accommodation.

Blue shades represent areas where homosex is most accepted. There are groups within the blue areas which do not accept homosex. The Micmac (Ainu) of northeast Canada and the Aborigines of Australia are examples.

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