Nigeria | Presidential candidate would legalise homosexuality – as long as it’s private

Nigerian presidential candidate Donald Duke says he’s fine with gay people, as long as they keep their sexuality to themselves. And he certainly won’t stand to be kissed by another man.

Duke, who is the former governor of the southern Nigerian state of Cross River spoke about his views on homosexuality and the LGBTQ community in an interview on the show, On The Couch.

“I’m going to take on the question about gay rights,” he told the two presenters. “I don’t understand it because I’m straight. I don’t understand the emotional feelings a gay person would have of their sexuality. I don’t understand it but I will not criminalise them. I would ensure they have the protection of the law.”

“Does it make your skin crawl?” asked one of the hosts. Duke recounted, to their disbelief: “I arrived at New York and went through the airport, and at the passenger rank, two guys came together and were kissing… Keep it in your house. I’m sorry. I’m talking about the norms of society.”

He added, to laughter: “The day you try and kiss me, then slap I’ll slap you. Don’t even try it!”

Duke explained that, in his opinion, “You cannot jettison the norms of society. There are certain things you’ll do in America or in England or Nigeria that you cannot do in Saudi Arabia, for instance, and you’ve got to respect the norms of the society. So when you’re in Rome, behave like the Romans. Don’t swim against the tide because we’re not there.”

He was also asked if he would appoint a gay person to his cabinet. Duke didn’t appear to have a problem with that as long as, once again, the matter remained a confidential one. “His sexuality is private to him, I don’t want to know if you’re gay. It’s not my business. My business is ‘Can he perform the assignment that has been assigned to him?'”

Nigerians will go to the polls in February 2019 to elect their president and MPs to the National Assembly.

The country has some of the most repressive anti-LGBTQ legislation in the world. A 2014 federal law prohibits same-sex marriages and relationships with a penalty of up to 14 years in prison and stipulates 10 years in jail for public displays of same-sex affection as well as membership or support of LGBTQ groups. Under colonial-era legislation, anyone found guilty of engaging in homosexual acts can also be jailed for 14 years.

Earlier this week, 57 men were arrested in a raid on a hotel in Lagos amid claims that they were being “initiated into a homosexual club”. The humiliated victims were paraded in front of the media as the state commissioner of police warned that gay people must be stopped “before they infiltrate our streets and schools.”

Watch Duke’s interview below. He talks about homosexuality at around 29.36 minutes into the show.

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