Sweeping legislation signed into law in Nigeria last week threatens the rights to freedom of assembly and of association for LGBT individuals. The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, passed by the Parliament in May, became law with the signature of President Goodluck Jonathan on January 7.
In addition to banning same sex marriages and relationships, the law also bans homosexual associations, societies, and meetings. Under the law, registration of or participation in a homosexual organization could carry a jail sentence of up to ten years.
In a statement released yesterday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay denounced the law, saying, “Rarely have I seen a piece of legislation that in so few paragraphs directly violates so many basic, universal human rights. Rights to privacy and non-discrimination, rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, rights to freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention: this law undermines all of them.”
ICNL is currently supporting the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association as he writes his upcoming report to the Human Rights Council. The report will focus on how laws may discriminate against certain vulnerable groups seeking to exercise rights to freedom of assembly and association, including LGBT individuals.