Ezekwesili promises inclusion for LGBTQ persons if elected president
Presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Oby Ezekwesili, has said everyone including the LGBTQ community in Nigeria would have equal access to opportunities and social justice if she is elected the president of Nigeria in 2019.
“I absolutely believe in the fact that everyone deserves equal opportunity,” Ezekwesili said during a conference at Royal Institute of International Affairs, known as Chatham House.
She stated this after, Bisi Alimi, an openly gay Nigerian, accused her of being homophobic.
“In 2009, when you were still the vice president of the world bank, you refused to attend and even stop an attempt to rescue gay men who were caught up in a World Bank project in Tanzania,” Alimi said.
“When was SSMPA was signed in 2014 you and I had a spat on Twitter which led to you blocking me. Talking about inclusion and social justice will you consider people like me in your Nigeria of 2019,” he queried.
The Presidential candidate, while responding to the allegations, shed more light on her stance in the discrimination facing LGBT members in the society and most especially in Nigeria.
“It wouldn’t matter to me what you believe in or what you chose to believe. It is basically the fact that equality of opportunity will define my time in government,” Ezekwesili said.
“Equality of opportunity offers everyone the right to believe and aspire,” she added.
She also defended the allegation made by Alimi that she refused to rescue some gay men in Tanzania when she was with the World Bank.
Ezekwesili said she reached out to the Tanzanian government over the issues and she was surprised at Alimi’s allegations.
The acceptance of the members of the LGBTQ has always been a controversial issue in Nigeria.
In 2014, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, enacted and signed into law the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA), on the premise that the Nigerian culture is antithetical to homosexuality.
The law also prohibits same-sex relations. They are also criminalised under the criminal code and in Islamic Sharia laws adopted by 12 northern states in Nigeria, including Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara.
The law prescribes a 14-year jail term for anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage or union and a 10-year jail term for any person who “operates, participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations, or directly or indirectly makes a public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria.”