Sunday, May 07, 2006

Anti-gay McCarthyism in Nigeria

In January, I wrote about a hideous bill being pushed through Nigeria's National Assembly. The bill would ban not just homosexual acts and gay marriage (neither of which are legal in the country anyway). It would criminalize any form of free speech used to agitate for gay rights.

The justice minister was quoted as promising the proposal would ban "any form of protest to press for rights or recognition" by gays and lesbians. Perhaps Fred Phelps is an advisor to the Nigerian government.

But just when you think it can't get any worse, it does.

Black Looks blog cites The Vanguard newspaper which reports that the Bill has been widened to include "punish individuals who witness, celebrate with or support couples involved in homosexual relationships". Any persons breaking the law will be subjected to a compulsory term of 5 years imprisonment.

The Vanguard article adds:

The bill also aims to prohibit any form of publicity or registration to homosexual clubs and societies. Section 7 of the bill reads thus: Registration of Gay Clubs, Societies and organisations by whatever name they are called in institutions from secondary to the tertiary level or other institutions in particular and, in Nigeria generally, by government agencies is hereby prohibited. Publicity, procession and public show of same sex amorous relationship through the electronic or print media physically, directly, indirectly or otherwise are prohibited in Nigeria.

This bill essentially invalidates the rights not only of gays and lesbians but of any straight person who wants to show support for them or the gay rights cause.

It makes you wonder which legislator is going to advance his career by becoming the Nigerian answer to Joseph McCarthy.

Bear in mind, this is being promulgated by a purportedly democratic civilian government. Since the ruling party is sure to ram this through, the only way to stop this monstrosity is if some 'activist judge' decides to declare the obvious: this bill violates Nigeria's constitution. To say nothing of it being a grotesque violation of various pan-African and international human rights treaties of which Nigeria is a part.

The international community has been quick to condemn the states of northern Nigeria for their imposition of a reactionary interpretation of Islamic Sharia law almost worthy of the Taliban. It's one of the rare times feminists and Crusaders agree. But when the predominantly Christian federal government tries to do something nearly as regressive against gays, the only place you hear about it is the progressive blogosphere.


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