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Why we won't sanction Nigeria on gay law – UN

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The United Nations, yesterday, said it would not relent on
its effort to persuade Nigeria to repeal the law that
criminalised same sex marriage in the country, even as it
adduced reasons why it would not in the meantime, impose
any sanction on the nation.
Addressing a press conference at the end of her four days
working visit to Nigeria, the UN High Commissioner for
Human Rights, Navi Pillay, while advocating for adequate
protection of the rights of lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals and
transgender, LGBT, yesterday, described the same sex
marriage law as “draconian and illegal”, saying “the law
already appears to be having other dangerous side effects.”
Pillay, who was in the country to appraise human right
situations, said the UN would forthwith hold the Attorney
General of the Federation and Minister of Justice,
Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, accountable to his
assurances that the same sex marriage law was not in any
way intended to criminalise individual sexual orientations.
According to the South African born UN Chief, “In the
twenty years since the office of the UN Commissioner for
Human Rights was created, this is the first time any High
Commissioner has visited Nigeria. I am grateful to the
government for inviting me.”
”This is a very important country, with easily the largest
population in Africa, big ambitions and huge potential. On
the international level, Nigeria has been playing an
increasingly significant role in the Human Rights Council in
Geneva and is currently a member of the Security Council.
It can, and I believe should, play an even more significant
role on the international stage in the years to come, and its
embrace of human rights will be a major element in deciding
its future course both internally and internationally.
”One of the groups living in fear is Nigeria’s lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The new law
known as the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition Act) goes
far beyond prohibiting same sex marriage- which was
illegal anyway.
”The law violates international law in that it is
discriminatory and seriously impinges on freedom of
expression and freedom of assembly, and could lead to human
rights defenders advocating for the rights of LGBT people
receiving draconian prison sentences.
”There is also concern among medical specialists that it will
have serious negative consequences for public health in
Nigeria, by driving LGBT persons underground and
deterring them from signing up for HIV educational
programmes, prevention, treatment and care services. Given
that Nigeria currently has the second largest HIV epidemic
in the world, this would be a heavy blow to the efforts to
combat HIV.
”The law already appears to be having other dangerous side
effects, even before it comes into force, with my office
receiving reports of widespread arrests of LGBT people in
some states, some physical attacks, including by mobs, and
other forms of harassment such as a rise in blackmail and
extortion. It is for these reasons, among others, that this law
has aroused such controversy on the international level.
”As someone who grew up in South Africa under apartheid,
and was discriminated against both because of my colour and
my gender, I am acutely aware of the terrible effects of
discrimination and intolerance.
”The UN Secretary General had roundly condemned the
same sex marriage Act because we believe that it
contravenes international laws and the African Union
Charter which Nigeria signed to.

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