‘I only acted as a govt. spokesperson,’ Reuben Abati explains role in passage of anti-gay law

Dr. Reuben Abati, the former Special Assistant to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan today explained his role in the signing of the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act into law in 2014 saying he was only carrying out his role as a government spokesperson.

Abati who was the former head of the Guardian Newspapers editorial board explained his role while speaking at a conference organized today at Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Lagos, by The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs) in partnership with Y!/YNaija.com.

“It was part of my duty to explain government policy. The same-sex bill came as an Act – from the people in the National Assembly. The law does not express my personal opinion – I have no objection to how anyone chooses to live his or her life. I merely carried out my duty as a spokesperson,” Abati said.

“As to whether I addressed President Jonathan on signing the law or not – he was under pressure from various directions to either assent to the law or not. If Jonathan had vetoed that law you know the Assembly could have also vetoed it.”

In his speech, Olumide Makanjoula, the Executive Director of TIERs called for the respect of the rights of the LGBT community in Nigeria. He later launched the 2016 Human Rights Violations Report which details varying levels of violence, discrimination, and degrading treatment experienced by lesbian, gay, trans, queer, and intersex people living in Nigeria.

The conference which was anchored by Chioma Chuka featured panelists like Latasha Ngwube, Joy Isi-Bewaji, Osikhena Dirisu, Ayokunle Odekunle and more. It was organized to mark the 2016 International Human Rights Week.

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