PRESS RELEASE ON THE IMPLICATION OF THE SAME SEX MARRIAGE [PROHIBITION] ACT 2013 ON HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN NIGERIA
The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Mrs Reine Alapini-Gansou, has taken note of the promulgation on 13 January 2014 in Nigeria of the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, and is deeply concerned about the consequences this law may have on sexual minorities who are already vulnerable as a result of social prejudice.
The Special Rapporteur is concerned by some provisions of the Act, in particular Sections 4(1) and 5(2) which prohibit and provide for penalties against defenders of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. These provisions undermine the work of human rights defenders and are against any public debate on this crucial issue.
The Special Rapporteur is concerned by the increase, following the enactment of the law, in cases of physical violence, aggression, arbitrary detention and harassment carried out against human rights defenders dealing with sexual minority rights issues.
The Special Rapporteur strongly condemns such acts which are a violation of the right to life, physical integrity, and freedom of expression and assembly of human rights defenders.
The Special Rapporteur would like to remind the Government of Nigeria of its international obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
The Special Rapporteur calls on the Government of Nigeria to ensure that human rights defenders are able to conduct their activities in an enabling environment that is free of stigma and reprisals.
The Special Rapporteur would also like to encourage the Nigerian political authorities to continue their efforts towards ensuring the physical integrity and safety of human rights defenders in Nigeria.
Banjul, 05 February 2014