On the 14th of February, the house joint committee on Human Rights, Women Affairs, and Justice held a public hearing on the above named issue.
The same sex prohibition bill which was sent to the house by the present government in January of 2006, was to prohibit Amorous relationship with persons of same sex, ownership of clubs and also same sex materials.
The public hearing which lasted for over 3hours took place in the house committee room 1 of the national assembly and was chair by Honurable Sadatu.
In her address she made clear that the committee will consider certain factor which has to do with Religion, Tradition and Moral which affect the society and on that premise she called for paper presentation.
The coalition of Civil society headed by Dorothy Aken`ova, presented a strong statement on the implication of the bill not only to the LGBT community in Nigeria, but also to their friends and family and also the Politicians that are ready to pass the bill.
The paper presented by Rev Rowland Jide Marculay, drew reaction from the people present and also caused confusion because since he was a Rev, the house expect him to speak in favour of the Bill.
Representing the LGBT community was Bisi Alimi, who presented the paper from the young LGBT in the country calling for caution and also better understanding, he also brought the attention of everyone present to the danger of HIV affecting the country and also the effect the bill will have on their relationship with people within their neighbourhood, which include their friends, parent and and loved.
Opening discussion for the bill was the medical consultants employed by the committee who is also the special adviser to the president of health matters.
he said that due to the risky lifestyle of lgbt people which includes promiscuity, and dangerous illness lke cancer, violence, depression,HIV, and other illness, it will spell evill if the bill is passed.
he cited various reseaches done all over the world and call for the committee to proceed with the bill, he also stated that homosexuality is a process and it can be cured.
In his presentation, the country coordinator of UNIADS, called for protection of marginalized group in the country especailly sexual minorities, and also pointed out that the bill is a gross violation of human rights and that if passed, will increase the rate of HIV in hte country and most lgbt people will go underground and will not be able to access treatment, since the bill says there should be no form of relationship with anyone considered to be an LGBT person.
The other groups present at the hearing include Religious organisation: the Muslim cleric and representatives of the Christian Association of Nigeria.
This groups believes that this bill should not even come to public hearing not, since it is a violation of the religious and moral belief of Nigerians, and that even the penalty of 5years should be increased and also added without an option of fine.
With this latest development all is now set for the battle of conscience in the Nigerian political setting, the legislators are saying the bill will be brought to the house before the end of this political dispensation, and that means that the bill will know its fate soon.
If the bill pass the following will be the implication:
1. the already endangered community of LGBT in Nigeria will further face a hasher situation as the bill presented a five years in jail.
2. it will criminalised all form of same sex relationship in Nigeria, and since the bill did not single out anyone, then event the foreigner will be target and this will bring a drop in Nigeria economic earnings.
3. the struggling HIV program of this administration will became fruitless as positive LGBT that are summoning courage to state their status will further go underground.
4. their will be forced marriages which will lead to high rate of divorce later in the country.
5. Depression will be on the increase and suicidal thoughts will prevail amongst young LGBT in the country.
6. More young LGBT will seek for asylum in friendly nations and their caused shortage of man power in Nigeria.
7. There will be high rate of human rights abuse: this is because the bill if passed will be use as a tool for victimisation and blackmailing.
8. The rights of expression and association will be caged and people will have to be what the society wants them to be.
At the end of the hearing, the coalition had a meeting and the following decisions were taken:
a. we plan to start a lobbying process in he house, this was because during the hearing there were vicible supporters against the bill among the legislators and we think if we capitalized on this we might make them convince their colleagues.
b. that interviews be granted and pressure be laid on the legislators.
c. that we should be involved in educating the populace on the danger and the effect of the bill so that they can support the rejection of the bill.
d. we also plan to meet and discussion new ways of contributing to the rejection of the bill.
It should be noted that all hands must be on deck to prevent this dangerous bill see the light of day, if it does, all the effort of the international community in Nigeria will surely be a waste and the pressure of asylum seeker on other nations will be very high thereby creating economic instability on the host nations.
Report presented by: Bisi Alimi