Nigeria Still Under Fire for Promulgating Anti-Gay Marriage Bill
Nigeria and other countries who are not in support of gay are still under fire from the United Nations [UN] and the international community as the UN Secretary General has once again stressed that homophobic bullying of young people constitutes a “grave violation of human rights.”
Speaking at a panel on ending violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation at the UN office to mark the annual Human Rights Day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday, urged States to take the necessary measures to protect their citizens from violence and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Bullying of this kind is not restricted to a few countries but goes on in schools and local communities in all parts of the world,” Mr. Ban said in a message delivered by Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonovic to a panel discussion on ending violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation at UN Headquarters in New York.
“Tackling this problem is a shared challenge. We all have a role, whether as parents, family members, teachers, neighbours, community leaders, journalists, religious figures or public officials.
“It affects young people all the way through to adulthood, causing enormous and unnecessary suffering. Bullied children may become depressed and drop out of school. Some are even driven to suicide.”
Mr. Ban stressed the need to change harmful attitudes in society that encourage discriminatory laws and practices by State authorities.
“Tackling this problem is a shared challenge. We all have a role, whether as parents, family members, teachers, neighbours, community leaders, journalists, religious figures or public officials,” Ban ki Moon said, adding that States are legally obliged to protect their citizens from this type of violence.
There are currently 76 countries where individuals face criminal sanctions for engaging in private and consensual sexual relations with another adult of the same sex, Mr. Šimonovic also told the panel, adding that the UN has been working to establish dialogue with these States to advance the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons and that while several countries have made remarkable progress, there is still much to be done.
“Gradually, States are coming to see that the commitments to eliminate discrimination enshrined in the Universal Declaration [of Human Rights] and in our core United Nations human rights treaties apply to everyone, not just heterosexuals but gays and lesbians and bisexual, transgender and intersex people too.”
Relatively, the Executive Director of the Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth and a Nigerian gay rights activist, Ifeanyi Orazulike, has also condemned the bill, and called for international action against Nigeria and other countries passing such laws against what the he and other speakers called “sexual minorities,” and “human rights.”
Orazulike, who is the Executive Director of the International Center for the Advocacy and Rights to Health, based in New York and Abuja, said since he launched a campaign against the bill, he had been receiving death threats on his email, texts and Facebook page.
He disclosed that he would be returning soon to Nigeria after his advocacy and schooling there, but “I am afraid for my life and the life of my son.”
The panel discussion included the participation of: Philippe Kridelka, Director of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch; Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard, a gay United States man who was tortured and killed; and Doi Nakpor, Nadine Moawad and Kelly Orazulike, human rights defenders in Thailand, Lebanon and Nigeria, respectively.