Thursday, 6 June 2013

Amnesty Intl. Wants Being Gay To Be Legalized In Nigeria


Amnesty International has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to veto the proposed law which prescribed up to 14 years imprisonment for anyone found guilty of same-sex relationships.
A statement issued on Thursday by the rights group and nine other international human rights organisations described the law as  draconian’’.
It said the law ``will formalise discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gender and intersex people and have wide-ranging effects on civil liberties in the country’’.
The rights group recalled that on May 30, the House of Representatives passed the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill with a recommendation of a prison sentence of up to 14 years for homosexual relationships.
It noted that the Senate had already passed a similar bill and added that ``if signed into law, the bill will also criminalise freedom of speech, association and assembly’’.
Lucy Freeman, Deputy Director of Africa Programme, Amnesty International, said the bill was ``a throwback to past decades under military rule when these civil rights were treated with contempt''.
It undermines basic freedoms that Nigeria’s civil society has long fought to defend; the civil rights of Nigerians cannot simply be legislated away,’’ Freeman said in the statement.
The group claimed that the proposed law would also interfere with public health outreach efforts in Nigeria, given the country’s record of having the world’s third-largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS.
The proposed law would hinder efforts to target vulnerable groups by criminalising those who conduct outreach to such groups. It would drive some groups affected by the epidemic further underground for fear of imprisonment.’’
The statement was endorsed by the Centre for Environment Human Rights and Development, Collaborative Media and Advocacy Platform, Human Rights Watch and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre.
Other groups listed are Project Hope/Nigeria HIV INFO, Queer Alliance Nigeria, Stakeholders Democracy Network, the Initiative for Equal Rights, Women Advocates' Research and Documentation Centre.
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