Nigeria is Hell-bent on 'Sanitizing' Gays Due to Law
by TarikA on February 9, 2014 - 6:10pm
Though support for the LGBT community seems to be gaining traction in certain parts of the world, there are still many countries where the concept of gay sex still promotes violence and disdain. This is precisely the case for the African nation of Nigeria, where religious extremism rules, according to an article published on February 8 by New York Times journalist Adam Nossiter, titled “Wielding Whip and a Hard New Law, Nigeria Tries to ‘Sanitize’ Itself of Gays.”
Last January, Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, passed a law that essentially criminalized homosexual activity, something that has been banned in the country since British colonial rule (convictions were rare then). With the advent of the law came a sweeping tide of violence and arrests, mostly perpetrated across the northern region of the country, where Islamic Sharia law governs. According to the article, the fear and hate mongering that has been generated by this law, and the ultra-conservative media that approves of it, has forced some people to try and seek out asylum abroad. For those who are caught, their faith is much more grueling. Nossiter describes a recent ruling, in which a judge had purportedly shown “leniency” by dismissing a man from death by stoning (which is the penalty of gay sex under Sharia law) and instead subjected him to lashings at the “shoulder level.” This level of violence may be shocking, but many people in the country feel it is warranted: a Pew Research Center survey from last March reveals that about 98% of Nigerians “do not believe society should accept homosexuality.”
Unfortunately, there is very little support for the victims of Jonathan’s anti-gay law in Nigeria. In fact, homosexuality is deemed illegal in 38 of 54 African countries, according to Amnesty International. Though this attitude is a product of an amalgamation of both religion and cultural isolation, it’s sickening to witness legislation mock and ignore the most basic of human rights. Of course, the taboo associated with homosexuality is something that we still have difficulty getting rid even in North America, but it should be shameful to state that we still live in a society where people are condemned to life imprisonments or worse over their sexual orientation. Probes and inquests should be made by the United Nations to perhaps facilitate an image of the extent of this awful campaign. The situation is deplorable and needs to have the attention of the international community. By joining human rights groups or even contributing donations to others, we can, even if it is in a small way, help spread attention over the injustice that Nigeria’s law has sparked.