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Theresa May and ban on same-sex marriage in Nigeria


Sir: Nigeria should see the recent charge by the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, to rethink the ban on same sex marriage as an opportunity to review and repeal that obnoxious law.

May has, while addressing the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the UK, urged leaders to revoke laws that discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Nigeria is one of the countries that officially discriminate against those in same sex relationships. According to May, legislations that criminalise same sex relationships are out dated and should have no place in the statute books of countries in this era and age.

It is important that the Buhari government heeds this call and put in place necessary measures to revoke this outdated legislation.

Although, it was the government of Goodluck Jonathan that signed the anti same- sex marriage into law, nothing stops the Buhari government from revisiting this legislation and subsequently repealing it.
Apart from this legislation that the government of Jonathan introduced, homosexuality is a crime under the state and sharia laws. The enactment of the anti same-sex marriage law only reinforced hatred and hostility towards gays.

For instance, since 2015, the country has witnessed an escalation in the attack and persecution of real and imagined homosexuals in the country.

Security agencies have raided suspected gay meetings or events, and arrested participants. This vicious trend must stop. The homophobic structures must be dismantled and it falls on the government of Buhari to realise the much needed change.
So Buhari has an opportunity to take this country in a new direction where nobody is discriminated against based on sexual orientation or gender identity. He can turn a new page of dignity and respect for gays and lesbians in Nigeria.

But Buhari cannot get the country to rethink the anti same-marriage law without popular pressure and propositions.

Buhari will not act unless Nigerians get him to act especially at a time that he is seeking re-election next year.

All Nigerians who are in agreement that the law banning same-sex marriage in Nigeria is outdated should speak out, and get Nigeria to be legally up to date.

They should compel the government to revoke the law that criminalises same-sex relationships. Nigerians who are in support of gay rights should mobilise and utilise all legal and democratic means to pressure the government and intensively lobby for a review of the legislation against same-sex marriage in Nigeria.

Leo Igwe.

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