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‘No’ to Homosexuality, ‘Yes’ to Child Marriage in Nigeria

A man was beaten by members of the public in Kotodayo community in Ota in western Nigeria, on August 22, 2013, for allegedly being gay. This came in the wake of a bill passed in the Nigeria's House of Representative on May 30, 2013, which criminalises gay marriage, same-sex relationships and membership of a gay rights group.

The man, known only as Sadiq, was whisked from the scene conscious but there is no information on his current condition.

President Goodluck Jonathan must approve the bill before it becomes law. The bill, which was passed by Nigeria's Senate in November 2011, sets prison sentences of up to 14 years for offenders. Ironically, it is the same Senate that approved child marriage in July this year.

Global Attitudes Project by Pew Research Centre shows that Nigeria is the least tolerant country in the world when it comes to homosexuality. A mere rumour of being gay in the country can lead to violence and even imprisonment.

A map showing penalties targeting gays and lesbians in Africa. Image source: http://ilga.org/

Homosexuality is outlawed in 38 African countries and it can be punishable by death in Mauritania, Sudan and northern Nigeria.

In February 2012, Uganda re-tabled a controversial anti-gay bill proposed by a Ugandan member of parliament, David Bahati, who claimed to to have dropped the death penalty and jailing of family members who fail to report homosexuals to the authorities in the new bill.

In the same month, the former Liberian first lady, Jewel Howard Taylor, introduced a bill making homosexuality liable to a death sentence.

Many African politicians and lawmakers claim that homosexuality is un-natural and un-African. South Africa is an exception with a constitution, which provides the most comprehensive protection of gay rights in the world.

Reacting to the story of mob justice meted out against the suspected gay on Nigeria Eye news site, Mr Speaker made the following observations:

Mare [sic] allegation that someone is gay is enough to expose them to violent attacks in Nigeria what a shame. I don’t think there is any law that will change the sexuality of homosexuals. Human rights for all please.

On PM News Nigeria website, Naubiko wondered why the public should be so concerned with “myopic issues” such as homosexuality:

I don’t [he later made a correction in another comment saying that he meant to use the word "do" instead of "don't"] abhor gay pratice but is this what we should be bothering ourselves with . When we should be making politicians lives a living hell we’re bothered with all sorts of myopic issues .

But Adeyinka was not convinced:

Gay is evil dont support it in any form. Nothing concern politician here.accept jesus christ b4 it is too late for you.

On Twitter, Nigerian writer St.Vince (@vinzPaz) thought mob justice against homosexuals is sadistic even if homosexuality in illegal:

Alexis Okeowo (@alexis_ok), a journalist writing about Africa for international media outlets, wished for a day Nigerians will get angry over anti-gay bills like they do with child marriage legislation:

The Nigerian Senate on July 18, 2013 upheld a clause in the Nigerian Constitution that defined full age to include any woman that is married regardless of her age. Concerned Nigerians and activists opposed the move on Twitter using the hashtag #ChildNotBride created by Ayomidotun Fadeyi (@IAmAyomiDotun), a Nigerian visual storyteller.

In 2010, Ahmad Sani Yerima, senator and former governor of Zamfara State in Northern Nigeria, was accused of marrying a 13-year old Egyptian girl. Yerima reportedly paid the girl's parents 100,000 US dollars in dowry. Senator Sani Ahmed Yerima led the group of senators who opposed changing the definition of legal age of marriage arguing that certain religious traditions allow for marriage under 18.

Tweeting about the same issues of child marriage and homosexuality, Bar Baric (@Bar_Baric) wrote:

Eusebius (@IgbokweEusebius) is sure that Lagos will legalise gay marriage in the future:

Homosexuality is deeply rooted in Nigeria, noted Pizzle Houdini (@thisisphd):

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