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Is There A Justification For The Same-Sex Prohibition Act?

Gay rights protest. Photo Bisi Alimi Foundation

Not everyone enjoys love as what it should be: one of the best things in life, especially with the support of friends and family, the joy is fuller.

Finding love was a nightmare for Shalom Shoremi because she brought a woman home. Her family became her enemy, disowning her publicly on a national daily. Unlike in many western countries, same-sex relationships are criminalised in Nigeria.

Shoremi’s rejection is not an isolated case. Since the criminalisation of same-sex sexual relationships in January 2014, the Nigerian LGBTTQQIAAP (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, pansexual, and other variants, hereafter referred to as LGBT) community has faced a new wave of discrimination, hostility and rejection.

The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA), signed into law in 2014 by former President Goodluck Jonathan, was enacted on the premise that the Nigerian culture is antithetical to homosexuality. With the population of the country largely divided between Christians and Muslims, there was also a religious urgency to the prohibition.

Advocates and supporters of this law feel that the absence of the law will jeopardise the future of humans since the LGBT is not about procreation but perversion. They believe that this law deters people from being LGBT. In fact, 90% Nigerians support the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act. But for members of the LGBTQ community, 2014 marked a negative turning point for them.

For the LGBTQ, discrimination, violence, blackmail, arrest and extortion are incidents that mark their lives. Apart from this, their fundamental human rights are being infringed on. Even straight men who are perceived gay have been looped into the problem.

Considering other sections of the constitution that grants citizens the right to freedom of expression and association, is there justification for the enactment of the prohibition act?

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