The Nigerian House of Representatives held public hearings last week on a bill that would criminalize all expressions and forms of homosexuality in Nigeria. This bill, titled the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill, includes penalties of five years imprisonment for any individual possessing or purchasing gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (GLBT) literature or film, subscribing or donating to a GLBT organization, attending GLBT events, or expressing any form of same-sex desire. Advocates of the bill suggest that homosexuality is contradictory to conservative Nigerian cultural and religious beliefs.
Four independent United Nations experts have already voiced strong opposition to the bill for violating several articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In a joint press statement, UN leaders claimed that the bill endangers the GLBT community, making individuals “more susceptible to arbitrary arrests, detention, torture and ill-treatment [exposing] them even more to violence and attacks on their dignity.” Protestors of the bill also argue that homophobic legislation will further stigmatize Nigerian homosexuals who suffer from the AIDS epidemic.
Lawmakers hope to pass the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill before general elections in April.