Health4Men, the sexual health campaign for gay and bisexual men, has urged South Africans to take a more vocal stance against Nigeria’s recently enacted anti-gay law.
The organisation, a project of the Anova Health Institute, said that it was “gravely concerned” by the law and expressed its “alarm and trepidation” at the resultant human rights consequences.
Thus far, South Africa has remained relatively silent on the enactment of the law. Exceptions have been pockets of protests at the recent Cape Town stadium during the Nigeria vs South Africa Chan football game, and a press release from the DA urging the South African government to take a stand on the issue.
Health4Men on Wednesday called on LGBT advocacy organisations and networks in South Africa to “develop an informed and coordinated response to the volatile situation unfolding north of our borders”.
It insisted that the South African government must also be “very outspoken in terms of promoting a human rights-based approach to minority sexual groups throughout Africa by condemning developments primarily in Nigeria”.
And finally, the organisation urged South Africa’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) population to “hold political parties accountable for how they propose to protect and promote human rights both locally and internationally, especially during the current election year”.
Glenn de Swardt, Programme Manager of Health4Men, said that in addition to the Nigerian law’s human rights violations, it also “undoes decades of sexual health advocacy and education regarding men who have sex with men (MSM)”.
“While MSM are a key population in terms of vulnerability to HIV, such men will be less likely to access appropriate health care. Simultaneously, prejudice by healthcare workers is now legitimised,” he added.
The Chief Executive Officer of Anova, Prof James McIntyre, commented: “No legislation will curb human sexuality. Male to male sex will obviously continue but is likely to become more clandestine. MSM will be less likely to access appropriate MSM-targeted prevention messaging and essential combination prevention. The implications for HIV transmission under such circumstances is rather dire.”
The draconian legislation was signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan earlier this month. It bans same-sex marriages, gay groups and displays of same-sex public affection; in effect criminalising same-sex love and sexual expression.
“Nigeria is one of 38 African countries that have adopted anti-gay legislation. A cancer of prejudice is eroding human rights, dignity and equality in Africa; this calls for all reasonable African voices to make themselves heard,” said Health4Men.