Thursday, June 01, 2006

Nigerian coalition forms against gay marriage bill

The News Agency of Nigeria (state run, no web presence) has reported on the formation of a coalition of Nigerian human rights activists against the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) bill (pdf) now before the Federal Assembly.

[Africa News Dimension has the story, but it will go behind a firewall shortly -- I will try to find another link as it becomes available]

Quote [emphasis mine]:
Rising from a two-day workshop on Wednesday in Abuja, the activists pledged to use every constitutional means to stop the bill, which they described as injurious to sexual minorities. They accused the sponsors of the bill of being sentimental and insensitive to the sexuality rights of a population.

Already, International Centre for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights (INCRESE), Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), Constitutional Rights Project (CRP) and Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) have formed a consortium to pursue the case.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that three other organisations -- National Human Rights Commission, Alliance Rights and Global Rights -- also pledged their commitment to the stoppage of the bill at the workshop.

The alliance is to, among other things, ensure that a public hearing is held before the bill is passed, to afford them the opportunity to contribute to its provisions. They are also to sensitise members of the public on sexuality rights as it affects everybody to elicit attitudinal change toward them.

The Executive Director of INCRESE, Miss Dorothy Aken'Ova, told NAN that sexual minotiries [sic] in the country constituted a large and diverse population.

Unfortunately, the article does not mention the most disturbing part of the bill: it's ban on speech, assembly, and the press in advocacy of homosexuality. Also banned are private same-sex marriages of parties who have no wish to ask for an endorsement or legal protection from the state. This constitutes a clear violation of freedom of religion. All of these rights are spelled out in the Nigerian Constitution, yet they would be abrogated for gay and lesbian Nigerians, with violations earning a penalty of 5 years' imprisonment.

This is the first news I've seen in over a month that a legislative battle over the legislation may be in offing. I had begun to suspect that the bill was a 3rd-term campaign ploy. Well, I guess this means that the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and its leader Archbishop Akinola still have a chance to amend their endorsement of the bill. I mean, surely, they don't want to imprison those to whom they wish to minister?

Right, Canon Popoola?

Stay tuned.

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