by Leo Igwe – African Examiner
Bob Marley in one of his famous songs urged the people of his country to stand up for their rights. He appealed to them not to give up the fight to exercise and enjoy basic human freedoms . At this critical time in the history of human rights in Nigeria, I am sending the Bob Marley message to human rights campaigners in the country and beyond. Let us all stand up for the rights of gay people in the country. Let’s not give up the fight against the anti gay marriage law and other expressions and manifestations of gay hatred and intolerance. Let us not give up the fight against state or religion sanctioned homophobia.
Homophobic politicians in Nigeria have since 2006 been scheming to tighten laws against homosexuality in the country. They sponsored anti same sex marriage bills, incited Nigerians against sexual minorities and politicized homosexual issues. Unfortunately, they have achieved their infamous goal under President Goodluck Jonathan. Homophobic politicians and theocrats have pressured and cornered him into signing the vicious and draconian anti gay marriage bill into law. The Presidential Spokesperson, Reuben Abati made it clear that the process was not informed by human rights, equality and justice but by religious and cultural beliefs of Nigeria.
By signing the anti gay marriage bill into law, President Jonathan has demonstrated contempt for human rights protection of gay people in Nigeria. Jonathan ignored the appeals from the international community including the United Nations and the European Union urging him not to make gay people criminals because of who they are or who they love. President Jonathan literally ignored one of those cannons of a democracy- which is the protection of minorities. He has shown the world that when it comes to law making in Nigeria, religion and culture trump human rights.
More importantly, the Nigerian president has failed in his responsibility to protect gay people in Nigeria from hate crimes-torture, intimidation, and attacks. He has legalized discrimination against gays and legitimized their persecution and abuse.
At this crucial moment, all human rights campaigners should heed those timeless words of Bob Marley and stand up for gay rights in Nigeria. We should continue to fiercely oppose the unjust legislation against gay marriage. We should not give up the fight against homophobia in Nigeria. We should not give up campaigning and letting Nigerian government understand that gay people are human beings and gay rights are human rights.