LGBT activists have called on the Commonwealth Games Federation to reject Nigeria’s bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games because of the country’s human rights policies.
“It would not be right for the 2014 Commonwealth Games to be held in Nigeria, given the country’s appalling human rights record, including its systematic persecution of lesbian and gay Nigerians,” said Davis Mac-Iyalla, founder and leader of the gay Christian group, Changing Attitude Nigeria.
Mac-Iyalla was speaking immediately after leading a delegation which met Mike Hooper, Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) at its headquarters in London, on August 3.
“Nigeria’s homophobic oppression is a violation of the Commonwealth Games ethos of equality, humanity, peace, unity, cooperation and understanding. Unless Nigeria radically improves its human rights record, it should be ruled out of consideration as a host for the 2014 Games,” added Mac-Iyalla.
The delegation presented the CGF with an 11-page report setting out why it should reject the bid by the Nigerian city of Abuja to host the 2014 Games.
The report, which is entitled “Abuja’s Bid – Sins of Omission”, was authored by Mac-Iyalla and Mike Hersee, both members of Changing Attitude Nigeria, the Anglican church pressure group which campaigns for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights.
In many Nigerian states, the maximum penalty for sex between mutually consenting adult men in private is 14 years in prison. In states that have introduced Sharia law, it is death by stoning.
“Violence against LGBT people in Nigeria has increased dramatically, in the wake of attacks on gay people by the Anglican Church of Nigeria and attempts by the Nigerian government to introduce sweeping new anti-gay laws. This legislation would have banned same-sex marriage, gay organisations and churches, safer sex advice for gay men, and the advocacy of gay human rights. Backed by the Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, the anti-gay bill only failed because it ran out of legislative time when the general election was called earlier this year. We fear the bill may be revived. Nigeria is a very threatening, intimidating place for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” said Mac-Iyalla.
“There will be many lesbian and gay athletes, officials, spectators and reporters at the Commonwealth Games in 2014. They could be at risk of arrest and violence if the Games go ahead in Abuja,” he added.
Hooper agreed to present their report to the President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, Michael Fennell, later this month. The final decision on which city will host the 2014 Games will be taken in early November.