The United Nations Human Rights Council

The United Nations Human Rights Council

Nigeria has defended its appalling human rights record with regard to gays and lesbians at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

On Tuesday, the country’s Universal Periodic Review of its human rights took place at the UNHRC in Geneva.

One of the issues addressed was the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill, which was passed by the Nigerian Parliament in May but is still awaiting presidential approval.

Among the recommendations to Nigeria from the UNHRC working group was the “repealing of all legislation that criminalises persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity and amending the Same Sex Marriage Bill and prevent violence against them”.

According to the Nigerian media, the country’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, said that Nigeria rejected the recommendations of “some countries on same sex marriage, because it is against its national values”.

He told the council that “Recent polling data suggests that 92 percent of Nigerians support the Anti Same-Sex Marriage Bill passed by the Senate”.

Adoke added: “Christianity and Islam, which are the major religions in Nigeria, also recognise marriage as relationship between a man and woman. Same-sex marriage is not in the culture of Nigerians.”

He went on to state that “Sexual and gender minorities are not visible in Nigeria and there is no officially registered association of gays and lesbians” and that same-sex marriage is “not a human rights issue in Nigeria”.

Same-sex marriages are already not recognised under Nigerian law, but the Same Sex Marriage Bill goes much further than simply blocking their registration.

The proposed law will actually jail anyone involved in same-sex marriage ceremonies (including the guests), anyone showing same-sex affection and anyone who does not turn in gay people to the authorities.

While he at least addressed the issue of same-sex marriage, Adoke failed to even try to justify the continued criminalisation of homosexuality in his country, which includes punishment of up to 14 years imprisonment or death by stoning in northern Islamic regions.

According to Erasing 76 Crimes, there are least 12 LGBT people currently on trial or already in jail in Nigeria on charges of homosexuality.

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