From Mike Ebhosa
SAME SEX MARRIAGE PROHIBITION ACT (SSMPA) OF JANUARY 2014:
On January 7, 2014, Nigeria’s former President, Goodluck Jonathan, signed the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill (SSMPA) into law. The notional purpose of the SSMPA is to prohibit marriage between persons of the same sex. In reality, its scope is much wider.
The law forbids any cohabitation between same-sex sexual partners and bans any “public show of same sex amorous relationship. The SSMPA imposes a 10-year prison sentence on anyone who “registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organization” or “supports” the activities of such organizations. Punishments are severe, ranging from 10 to 14 years in prison. Such provisions build on existing legislation in Nigeria, but go much further: while the colonial-era criminal and penal codes outlawed sexual acts between members of the same sex, the SSMPA effectively criminalizes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
While existing legislation already criminalizes consensual same-sex conduct in Nigeria, a human right report found that the SSMPA, in many ways, officially authorizes abuses against LGBT people, effectively making a bad situation worse.
Prior to the enactment of the SSMPA in January 2014, the general public objected to homosexuality primarily on the basis of religious beliefs and perceptions of what constitutes African culture and tradition. The law has become a tool being used by some police officers and members of the public to legitimize multiple human rights violations perpetrated against LGBT people. Such violations include torture, sexual violence, arbitrary detention, violations of due process rights, and extortion.
Since 2014, there has been rising incidents of mob violence with groups of people gathering together and acting with a common intent of committing acts of violence against persons based on their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
Last week in Gishiri village, Abuja, a group of approximately 50 people armed with machetes, clubs, whips, and metal wires dragged people from their homes and severely beat at least 14 men whom they suspected of being gay. Three persons died while over five were seriously wounded. No report of arrest has been made.
Arbitrary arrest and extortion by police is commonplace under the SSMPA. Interviewees in Ibadan and other places told Human Rights Watch that they had been detained by the police multiple times since the passage of the SSMPA. Human Rights Watch interviewed eight of the 21 young men who were arrested, but not charged, at a birthday party in Ibadan. They told Human Rights Watch that members of the public informed the police that gay men were gathered together and when police arrived and found a bag of condoms that belonged to an HIV peer educator, they were all arrested. They were held in police custody for four days, and released, without charge, after paying bribes ranging from 10,000-25,000 Naira (approximately US$32-64). These individuals said they had never been subjected to questioning, arrest, or detention prior to the enactment of this law. Individuals who have been arrested and detained are released on “bail,” usually after offering bribes to the police. Faced with 14 years’ imprisonment, several interviewees said they had little choice but to pay.
Several gay men and women have fled the country for fear of persecution. Majority of them are seeking asylum abroad. The truth is not all the asylum seekers are being granted, what happen to those refuse, Will it be nice for those nation to deport them and allow them face persecution here in Nigeria?
Blank news foreign correspondent Mike Ebhosa reported of several Nigeria homosexual that are in foreign detention for various offences awaiting deportation as well as others living illegally in many nations of the world. Among them is a United Kingdom based Patrick Ebiprado Kentebe whom we learnt is presently living illegally in that country but cannot come home because he fled detention when he got arrested in 2013 in Lagos while on holidays. A fourteen years jail term awaits him here in Nigeria if he comes back.
There are several other cases of Nigerian gay abroad but for fear of persecution cannot come back home but would rather prefer to endure difficulties that they face over there.
Nigerian authorities should act swiftly to protect LGBT people from violence, whether committed by state or non-state actors. Law enforcement officials should stop all forms of abuse and violence against LGBT people, including arbitrary arrests and detention, torture in custody, and extortion, and without delay ensure that they are able to file criminal complaints against perpetrators.
The National Human Rights Commission should look into the human rights norms and standards, prioritize the SSMPA for review. The Commission should utilize this protective mandate to investigate human rights abuses committed against LGBT persons.