Ambassador Usman Sarki (Pic: Peace Islands Institute / YouTube)
Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United Nations has lashed out at the release of stamps promoting LGBT equality by the UN’s postal service.
Last week, the UN Postal Administration issued six colourful commemorative postage stamps on behalf of the Free & Equal campaign, a project of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Conservative website Breitbart reports that Ambassador Usman Sarki of Nigeria was not happy about the news.
He told member states at a meeting in New York ahead of the launch of the stamps that his government was “distressed and alarmed that the United Nations has adopted an activist stance on a matter that does not enjoy consensus – or, for that matter, majority support among all its member States.”
He went on to say: “What is clear to many is that the UN has now decided without any reservation or hesitation to side with a minority of member states and practitioners of this lifestyle, in complete disregard of the wishes and concerns of the majority of its member states and the populations that they represent.”
Sarki insisted that the stamps were promoting “aberrant behaviour under the guise of promoting human rights” and urged the UN not to take “unilateral decisions on such sensitive matters that offend the sensibilities of the majority of its member states, and contradict their religious beliefs, cultures, traditions and laws.”
While Sarki called on the UN not to proceed with issuing the stamps, their launch went ahead at the General Assembly in New York with a ceremony that featured a performance by the city’s Gay Men’s Chorus.
The set of stamps – two in English, two in French, and two in German – are available at UN Headquarters in New York, Geneva and Vienna and can also be purchased online. They can only be used to mail items from these headquarters.
Nigeria – the most populous country in Africa – has some of the most repressive anti-LGBT laws in the world. Under colonial-era legislation, anyone found guilty of engaging in homosexual acts could be jailed for 14 years. A 2014 law prohibits same-sex marriage with a penalty of up to 14 years in prison and stipulates 10 years jail for public displays of same-sex affection and 10 years for membership or support of LGBT groups.
Muslims in twelve northern states in Nigeria also live under Islamic Sharia law, which allows homosexuality to be punished with death by stoning. Although this sentence is rarely carried out, those found guilty have recently most commonly been sentenced to public floggings.