Ayo Obe, Kole Shettima, others speak against gay bill

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by Akan Ido

The recently passed Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill and other Related Matters by the House of Representatives continues to generate a lot of reactions with many seeing it as a measure which tramples on the right of Nigerians to freely make choices on their sexual orientation.

According to a press statement made public by civil rights organisations and human rights activists like Ayo Obe, Kole Shettima, Aken’Ova Dorothy, Alimi Bisi and others, “The provisions of the propose bill infringe upon the fundamental rights provisions of the Constitution.”

Read the full text of the release below:

We, the undersigned human rights defenders, groups, individuals and civil society organizations hereby demand that the recent passage of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill and other Related Matters’ by the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria be rescinded.  The provisions of the propose bill infringe upon the fundamental rights provisions of the Constitution.

On the 30th May 2013, the Nigeria House of Representatives passed the bill titled “Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill’’. The Bill prohibits marriage between persons of same sex, criminalize organizations and persons who directly or indirectly aid or abate such a union.  This Bill will deprive Nigerians of their fundamental human rights as guaranteed in Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution. This includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, right to life, right to privacy and security of the person, right to private and family life, right to freedom from discrimination, right to freedom of expression and press, right to fair hearing, right to dignity of the human person and right to personal liberty.

This draconian legislation contravenes the provision of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which protects fundamental human rights of individual with no reference to their sexuality, their choice of spouses, private life, sex, creed or religion.

We are concerned that the Same Sex Marriage prohibition bill defines marriage not as an act between a man and a woman, but includes any two people of the same sex living together. This renders all Nigerian of the same sex living together as potential target of this law.

Many people share housing for economic reasons.  Two roommates of the same sex could be accused by anybody with whom they have a personal or public dispute of “living together as husband and wife” and be prosecuted under this law.

Their relatives, friends or visitors could be accused of indirectly supporting in private a same sex amorous relationship just by visiting them.

In a tactile society like Nigeria where people of same sex frequently and freely hold each other’s hands, wrap their arms around each other’s waist, can be seen in warm embrace, such innocuous gesture is likely to be misconstrued, invested with sexual meaning and misused for malicious purpose.   With the passage of this bill we are likely to see increased rate of harassment, witch-hunt and vindictive accusations which will impact on every Nigerian.

In the hands of unscrupulous politicians and aspirants, the legislation could be used as a powerful tool to undermine and discredit opponents thus subjecting prospective candidates to political blackmail or defamation of character and integrity.

Under the proposed legislation, it will be an offense to advocate against the law without being found guilty of indirectly supporting same sex marriage or relationships.  This would be an inherent contradiction for a democratic system.

Under this legislation lawyers will be unable to offer legal representation.  In fact such lawyers would be criminalized for representation and defense of perceived same sex related cases.

The Bill passed by House of Representatives defined marriage to be a legal union between persons of opposite sex  in accordance with the marriage act, Islamic law or customary law. We believe that by virtue of the Constitution, powers enabling the National House of Assembly to make laws over matters that are under the exclusive lists. Marriage by law is under the residuary list, which is the exclusive prerogative of each state of the Federation.

We are concerned that the passage of this bill would further encourage security agents such as the police to arbitrarily accuse, harass and arrest citizens on spurious grounds creating fear, suspicion and anxiety among the populace.

We are further concerned that before the passage of the bill, the principle of fair hearing was not put into consideration. The Bill contravenes the spirit of the 1999 constitution Chapter II section 17 (1), (2) (a-c) which states that social order is founded on ideals of freedom and equality and that every citizen shall have equal rights, obligations and opportunities before the law and shall uphold the sanctity of every person and enhance human dignity and ensure that all governmental actions shall be humane.

Democracy is about the rule of law, and as a secular state the evocation of religion and morality to police citizens’ private lives does not reconcile with democratic principles.  Democracy gives all citizens freedom of expression, association and equality before the law.  The passage of the Bill not only directly conflicts with and violates the principles of democracy; it also returns Nigeria to the autocracy of the military era.

In the light of the above concerns, we call on the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to;

  1. To immediately consult with the National Human Rights Commission, Civil Society Organizations and other stakeholders on the human rights implications of this Bill;
  2. To immediately withdraw the Bill and uphold the mandate as available in Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which stipulates the protection and promotion of fundamental human rights of all citizens.

STATEMENT SIGNED BY:

Organizations

AL- Centre for Human Development

Alliance for Africa and Nigeria Feminist forum

Changing Attitude Nigeria

Coalition for the Defence of Sexual Rights

International Centre for Advocacy on Rights to Health

International Centre for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights

Improved Youth Health Initiative

Legal Defence and Assistance Project

Queer Alliance

The Initiative for Equal Rights

Women’s Health and Equal Rights Initiative    

Human Rights Defenders

Aken’Ova Dorothy

Alimi Bisi

Ayo Obe

Akoro Joseph Sewedo

Ayesha Imam

Akudo Oguaghamba

Abayomi Aka

Akin Ayo

Bibi Bakare Yusuf

Chino Obiagwu

Chris Kwaja

Davis Mac- Iyalla

Emmanuella D. David-ette

Ifeanyi Kelly Orazulike

John Adeniyi

Kole Shettima

Kemi Williams

Michael Akanji

Otibho Obianwu

Owen Ibukun

Olumide Makanjuola

Rashidi Williams 

Stephen Chukwumah

Tope Oke

Uche Sam

Victor Ogbodo

Yemi Candide Johnson

Zaharadeen Gambo


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  • Some people are very senseless,how can a man having an affair wit fellow man,if i may ask how do u feel wen ur fellow man touches u?how can a man take off his cloths to makes love to a fellow man?i have never seen a place were a cork climb d same cork,may God forbid bad thing.

    Wani25 June 4, 2013 6:33 pm
    • it is very important to note that all that God created is very good, moist of us tend to be hypocrates when the ball tilts to the other side. pls let me ask you, how do you feel when you first ad you sex, was it repulsive, i doubt, so also is a man who God created to love other men will feel.
      remember God is never wrong, it is we humans that try to play god that fails most times.

      Akanji Michael June 4, 2013 7:38 pm
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