Pathfinder International Outraged by New Law Restricting LGBT Rights in Nigeria
At Pathfinder, we are dedicated to inclusive programs that take into account the needs and interests of vulnerable, stigmatized populations like the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.Less than a month ago, we expressed our deep concern regarding the enactment of anti-LGBT laws in both India and Uganda. At that time, we pledged to redouble our efforts in support of human rights for everyone, everywhere we work.
Today, we are once again reminded of this pledge. Nigeria has just passed a new law further criminalizing not only LGBT people, but also organizations and activities as well as the people who support them.
The text of the law states that “a person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies, and organizations, or directly or indirectly makes public show of same sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and is liable to conviction to a term of 10 years imprisonment.”
The bill also sets a 10-year imprisonment for any individual or group of people who supports “the registration, operation, and sustenance of gay clubs, societies, and organizations, processions or meetings in Nigeria.”
At Pathfinder, we are dedicated to inclusive programs that take into account the needs and interests of vulnerable, stigmatized populations like the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
The harm that this law will bring to LGBT individuals in Nigeria is staggering. There is no doubt that this law will result in LGBT individuals facing public humiliation, increased violence, and persecution by the police. They will be further ostracized by their families and their communities, stigmatized at school, and discriminated against when seeking health services.
The increased social homophobia and transphobia that this new legal provision will certainly entail has the potential to escalate the levels of individual and societal vulnerabilities to HIV infection among these groups.
This is particularly concerning in Nigeria, where the rate of HIV infection among men who have sex with men is already 17 percent, more than four times the national prevalence.
Institutional homophobia and transphobia in turn will keep individuals with real or perceived homosexual orientation or transgender people from reaching effective prevention, treatment, and care services—the same services that in other human rights-respecting environments currently contribute to ensuring healthier and more productive lives for millions of people.
Pathfinder International will continue to advocate in support of human rights for everyone, including LGBT individuals. We are pleased to join efforts with UNAIDS, the Global Fund, and all other governmental and civil society organizations working in support of human rights in Nigeria and around the world.
Read the UNAIDS and Global Fund Press Release here.
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Purnima Mane, president and chief executive officer of Pathfinder International, told IPS, “We are delighted the final set of [proposed] SDGs contains four critical targets on SRHR: three under the health goal and one under the gender goal. But we have not reached the finish line yet. We must all continue to raise our voices to ensure these SRHR targets are intact when the final version is approved."
Pathfinder International welcomes the ruling by Uganda’s Constitutional Court striking down the Anti-Homosexuality Act.