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‘Gay rights are human rights’

in NIGERIA, 08/11/2011

Following the Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transexuals and Intersex in Diaspora (LGBTID) group at a senate-organised public hearing on the Nigeria's Same Gender Marriage Prohibition Bill.

A Nigerian lesbian physician burst into tears Monday as she made a case to lawmakers to stop parliament from passing a bill that seeks to criminalise same-sex marriage.

The bill, which has passed the second reading in the senate, calls for a three-year jail term for anyone involved in a same-sex marriage and five years for those that abet or aid the solemnisation of such unions.

Otibho Obiowu spoke for the Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transexuals and Intersex in Diaspora (LGBTID) group at a senate-organised public hearing on the proposed law.

About a dozen other members of the group attended the session and were under police protection to prevent any harassment from members of the public.

In tears, she told the panel that “LGBTID rights are human rights.”

“The fundamental human rights of sexual minorities are violated daily because of criminalisation of same sex relationship and societal prejudice,” Obiowu said.

She said the consensus among scholars is that sexual orientation is not a choice and the bill “aims to punish people for what is essentially not their making.”

Father Michael Ekpenyong of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria said the right to choice has limits.

“If we accept, for example, that any two consenting adults can marry, we will sooner than later have to come to argue whether mother and son, father and daughter, sister and brother are free to marry,” said the cleric.

Earlier, dozens of Christians rallied outside the parliament building in support of the bill.

Same-sex marriage “is alien to our socio-cultural system. No religion in Nigeria supports same-sex marriage. It is not only sacrilegious, it is evil, it is satanic, it is devilish,” a leader of the Anglican Church, Ephraim Mawo, told reporters.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Sunday that his country will consider withholding aid from countries that do not recognise gay rights after Commonwealth leaders failed to adopt a recommendation to call for an end to homophobic laws in the 41member nations. Nigeria, a former British colony, is a member of the Commonwealth. - Sapa-AFP

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