President Goodluck Jonathan
An activist has confronted anti-gay Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on the issue of LGBT rights during the US-Africa Summit in Washington DC.
BuzzFeed reports that Micheal Ighodaro, a gay Nigerian activist who sought asylum in the US after being brutally attacked in 2012, attended a business diner in the president’s honour in the capital on Wednesday.
Ighodaro went up to Jonathan and questioned him about the Same-Sex Marriage Act, which he signed into law in January that further criminalised homosexuality in Nigeria.
The president reportedly responded: “The situation of homosexuals in Nigeria is delicate, but during this week the topic has come up a lot and it is something we will continue to look into, especially the attacks.”
Jonathen added: “If you think the law is unconstitutional you have the right to go to court and fight [to strike] it down.”
This may have been a reference to last week’s annulment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act in Uganda by that country’s Constitutional Court.
The issue of the plight of LGBT Africans is a topic that was largely avoided during the US-Africa Summit, at least publicly. Even President Obama failed to speak about the matter in his addresses during the event.
Obama was also criticised for posing with anti-gay African leaders in the White House, including Uganda’s homophobic President Museveni.
Gay sex is illegal in Nigeria with penalties including 14 years imprisonment. Twelve northern states in Nigeria operate under Islamic Sharia law that allows homosexuality to be punished with death by stoning.
Anti-gay sentiment has swelled in recent months after the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act further outlawed same-sex relationships and anyone who supports or operates gay clubs, societies and organisations.
Since the law was signed, the country has seen numerous arrests of people accused of being gay that have resulted in those found guilty being publicly lashed, There have also been reports of mob attacks on people suspected of being gay.