Thursday, June 11, 2009

On Nigeria - United Nations Human Right Council 11th Session

United Nations Human Right Council 11th Session
Geneva, 2 to 19th June 2009.
UPR Nigeria - International Lesbian and Gay Association

Mr President,

I have the honour to present a statement on behalf of ILGA and the Coalition for the Defence of Sexual Rights, Nigeria.

During the Working Group review of Nigeria, His Excellency Mr Ojo Maduaekwe assured the Human Rights Council that “as citizens, all Nigerians have their fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution” which protects “all Nigerians, including those who may consider themselves gay.” However, he also said that the government was unaware of any gay or lesbian groups or individuals in Nigeria.

The reality is that homosexuality is illegal under federal law in Nigeria and due to widespread taboos and homophobia, very few persons are open about their sexual orientation and sexual identity. Nonetheless, the Coalition for the Defence of Sexual Rights has been very active. We attended a public debate on the 14th February 2007, and again on the 11th March 2009, concerning the proposed Same Sex Prohibition Bill 2006 and the Same Gender Prohibition Bill 2008. The proposed bill, if approved, would seriously restrict essential freedoms and HIV prevention services, as well as the activities of human rights defenders.

Senator Umaru Dahiru, chairman of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and legal matters also denied any knowledge of abuses and concerns of gay and lesbian people in Nigeria.

There have been numerous harassment and publications in the Nigerian media inciting and promoting hatred against sexual minorities and members of House of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church. One transgender woman was attacked by 11 men, others were threatened, stoned, beaten, fired from their jobs and evicted from their homes. There were repeated delays in the trial of 18 men arrested in August 2007, charged originally with sodomy under the Bauchi State Islamic code. The trial is still pending.

In consideration of the recommendations made during its Universal Periodic Review, we ask the Nigerian government:

To repeal criminal provisions against consensual same-sex conduct, and ensure that the human rights of LGBT individuals and human rights defenders are not violated,
To reject any attempt to create discriminatory new laws, and eliminate all existing legislation that discriminates based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
To take measures to recognise the sexual health and protect the rights of sexual minorities.
Thank you very much Mr President.

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