NIGERIAN humanists have lashed out at a Parliamentary move to outlaw gay marriage in their country.
The Bill for an Act to Prohibit Marriage Between Persons of Same Gender, Solemnization of Same and for Other Matters Related Therewith was sponsored by Senator Domingo Obende, and went through its second reading at the end of September. It has since been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Human Rights for further legislative work.
In sponsoring the Bill, Senator Obende noted in this report that while there was a growing trend of approval of the practice of same-sex marriage in other countries, Nigeria should act fast to prevent it from taking root in his country.
Same-sex marriage cannot be allowed on moral and religious grounds. The Muslim religion forbids it. Christianity forbids it and the African traditional religion forbids it. It should not be allowed because it will lead to a breakdown of the society.
He predicted that children would be morally affected; families would decay; childless relationships and increased sexually transmitted diseases would be rampant, and gay marriage would eventually create a godless society.
In condemning the Bill, Leo Igwe, the Nigeria Humanist Movement‘s Executive Director, said:
We in the NHM are deeply concerned by yet another move by the Nigerian Parliament to criminalise same-sex marriage in the country. This bill is a big distraction and a waste of Nigeria’s limited legislative resources. It will worsen Nigeria’s human rights record and undermine the efforts by Nigerians to foster true democracy, national dialogue and tolerant pluralism.
He pointed out that similar bills considered by Parliament in 2006and 2008 were never passed into law.
Nigerian Humanists are wondering why the current members of the parliament deemed it necessary to bring up this bill again at a time when the nation is facing clear and urgent threats and challenges of insecurity, crime and conflict, religious fundamentalism and terrorism, poverty and social unrest.
It is difficult to comprehend why the Nigerian Parliament wants to set the country on a path against the global trend of abolishing homophobia and ending all forms of discrimination against persons on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Nigerian Humanists hereby urge the lawmakers to shelve this bill and instead to consider decriminalising homosexuality and taking other legislative measures to promote, protect, uphold and enforce the full human rights of all persons whatever their race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, religion or belief.
Commenting on Igwe’s reaction, George Broadhead, Secretary of the UK gay humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) said:
We warmly welcome this reaction and the support the NHM has given to LGBT rights over many years. Since its founding in 1996, the NHM has taken part in campaigns against anti-personnel landmines, child labour, female genital mutilation, ritual killing, witchcraft, caste discrimination, Sharia law and homophobia.
Whilst the various religious institutions are in the main overtly hostile to LGBT relationships and rights, the humanist movement worldwide can be relied upon to champion them.