A Nigerian lawyer is suing his government over the passage of a bill in the Senate that will jail same-sex couples who marry for 14 years.
According to the Premium Times, Robert Igbinedion filed the suit against the Same Gender Marriage Prohibition Bill in the Federal High Court in Lagos on behalf of “sexual minorities”.
He argues that that the bill violates fundamental rights to private and family life, freedom from discrimination, and human dignity.
The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation are included in his suit.
“I am not gay. Since I filed this action, I have only met one,” Igbinedion told the Times. “Before I filed the action, I have never met any in Nigeria. But that gives me more vigour, that empowers me because I am not biased.”
He went on to say: “All over Nigeria, the accepted norm now is as long as the majority is happy, the minority can go to hell… and that is the direction we are running into at jet speed. That is not a direction a government should go.
“The essence for which government is established is to protect minority,” he added.
Davis Mac-Iyalla, a Nigerian gay exile living in the UK, said Igbinedion’s legal challenge gives LGBT people in the African country “hope”.
“We don’t have lawyers in Nigeria that are interested to challenge the government over its oppression of minorities,” he told Gay Star News.”This is a big eye-opener and has shown that even in Nigeria you can find human rights disciples.”
In addition to allowing for the imprisonment of gay married couples, the Same Gender Marriage Prohibition Bill also punishes anyone “aiding or abetting” such unions with 10 years in prison.
The bill, which was recently slammed by the European Parliament, furthermore penalises “any person, who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same sex amorous relationship in Nigeria” to 10 years in prison.
Current legislation in Nigeria already punishes homosexual acts with 14 years’ imprisonment, or death by stoning in the country’s northern regions.