As the world mourns the loss of the father of Africa, Nelson Mandela, promoter of human rights, Uganda and Nigeria become more homophobic and tighten the noose around the necks of LGBT individuals in these countries.
Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, dubbed the “Kill the Gays Bill”, has been debated since 2009 and has caused an uproar worldwide due to its death penalty and life imprisonment clauses which would further restrict the already limited rights of LGBT in Uganda. Even after several amendments, which came as a result of local and international pressure, and successful delays in the tabling of the bill over the years, the bill has nonetheless been passed by the Ugandan parliament. Uganda LGBT rights activist, Samuel Opio commented in a disappointment “It’s (the bill) not constitutional in human rights and we shall go to the courts of law. It is against fundamental rights of individuals and people of Uganda”. This bill will not only incite increased violence against LGBT people, but it will also justify and legalize that violence, creating a more hostile environment for LGBT to live, work and enjoy their rights to dignity, freedom of association, fundamental rights deserved by all human beings regardless of race, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation.
It is with this in mind that we continue to hope that Nigeria does not make the same mistake. Nigeria’s Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill makes prohibits any marriage and civil unions entered into by persons of the same sex and imposes penalties for those who bear witness and solemnize these unions. Responding to this, Nigerian Founder and Project Director of House of Rainbow, Reverend Jide Macaulay remarked “In the last few days LGBT citizens of Nigeria and Uganda are being faced with possible legalized threats on the basis of who they love, this is state sponsored hatred and there is no room for this is a civilized world. It is unfortunate that many people and their families would be criminalized on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and organizations supporting these communities would be forced to close down. We believe that ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’. This is far from the realities in Nigeria and Uganda”.
These developments go against the ideals of humanity and human rights. LGBT individuals are victimized, humiliated, violated and murdered within their own countries. Societies should be alarmed when governments legalize these human rights violations. Pan Africa ILGA is shocked by these developments and calls on Uganda and Nigeria to re-consider their positions on LGBT human rights issues. We also call on the African governments to condemn these developments and actively pursue remedies to these situations. It is a collective responsibility of Africa to protect its people regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Every human being has the right to association and expression and to be treated equally and with dignity.