Resist gay marriage pressure, Nigerians tell Buhari
President meets Obama
NIGERIANS have restated their resolve to defend the country’s anti-gay law as President Muhammadu Buhari meets with his United States counterpart, Barack Obama in Washington DC today.
According to a social media message shared by a presidential aide, Buhari, who left for the U.S. yesterday morning, will be staying at the Blair House — the U.S.’ President’s official guest house — in Washington DC.
Although a White House statement at the weekend said that Obama would not push gay agenda at the bilateral meeting, the Project for Human Development (PHD), yesterday staged an anti-gay street rally calling on the Federal Government to resist pressures from the White House. The rally re-enforced the position expressed by Nigerians in a survey conducted by NOIPolls in May.
The White House statement saying that Obama would not push for gay rights in today’s meeting with Buhari followed a July 13 web chat in which the U.S.’ Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, reportedly stated that the U.S. had adopted gay ‘marriage’ as part of its foreign policy. Thomas-Greenfield had vowed that Washington would continue to put pressure on Buhari to legalise same-sex marriage.
Amid agitations and veiled threats from western countries, including the U.S. and Britain, former President, Goodluck Jonathan, had, in 2014, ‘supervised’ the passage of the anti-gay bill in the Seventh National Assembly, and subsequently signed a new law that prohibits same-sex marriage. Ever since the law came into being, there has been subtle disagreement between Nigeria and the United States, just as the matter has remained touchy in diplomatic circles.
According to the Director General of the PHD, Jerry Okwuosa, ‘’Obama and Buhari are meeting tomorrow (today) to discuss security, economy, Ebola and gay marriage legalisation in Nigeria. The fear is being entertained that Obama might trade off U.S.’ assistance to Buhari’s government with shooting down Jonathan’s anti-gay law. Buhari should reject such trade off.”
Meanwhile, there are renewed efforts by influential rights activists in the United States to instigate the home government and coerce Nigeria into reversing its anti-gay law as Buhari visits the country.
In a veiled manner, lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community have intensified pressure at forcing Nigeria’s Buhari-led Federal Government to revisit the law. Proponents of LGBT rights are syndicating targeted articles with a view to raising the tempo of the discourse. Some of the social media campaigns specifically accuse the U.S.’ black and African activists, who are opposed to same-sex marriage, of double-speak and hypocrisy in their human rights stance.
One of the articles written by Brandson Ellington Patterson, an editorial fellow at Mother Jones’ San Francisco bureau, argued that “every chain must be broken “if freedom is to be achieved for all black people.” Mother Jones is a non-profit news outlet that delivers reports on urgent issues in the U.S.
“On social media,” says Patterson: “I have seen black people imply that marriage equality is a frivolous concern, and that gay people shouldn’t have received the right to marry before black people got the right to walk down the street without being shot by the police. I’ve seen black people argue against gay marriage by pointing out that it’s still not legal to smoke weed in most of the United States. Then there are those who reject gay marriage and homosexuality as a sin. Despite steady growth across the entire U.S. population, support for same-sex marriage among black Americans remains in the minority, and is lower among black Protestants than all other religious groups except white evangelicals.”
Worried by the attention being given to same-sex marriage in the U.S. ahead of Buhari’s visit, Okwuosa, who runs the Lagos-based Project for Human Development, described the U.S. as a major exporter of gay rights across the world. He noted that it recently pressurised Uganda to reverse its anti-gay law, just as Mozambique has decriminalised it.
He said: ‘’At the moment, the U.S. is putting pressure on Kenya to legalise gay marriage while Kenyans have held rallies asking Obama to stay out of Kenya with his gay-marriage proposition. The U.S. should not confuse people by calling homosexuality or transgender a marriage; that kind of union cannot increase our population, it can only make us go extinct. We were meant to understand that the U.S. didn’t come to our rescue on the issue of the kidnapped Chibok girls because of our anti-gay law. America cannot say a thing like this to Saudi Arabia or Iran; it is because they have looked at us as a poor country; in fact, they should keep their help to themselves.”