I wanted to write an article on the topic but a lot of that has been flying all over the place with most echoing the other so I chose to let the matter be. However, since I was specifically called out by my friend Dr. Chukwusomnazu Nwanze to give my point of view, here it is.
The contents of the Anti-gay Law is a poor testament to legislative drafting in Nigeria which will in the long run, pose more problems than it seeks to cure. This is because it violates the fundamental human rights of privacy, freedom of expression and freedom of association. I will explain further, lest some gay rights activists chew me up on this one.
Inasmuch as I abhor the act which I consider an anomaly and a crime against nature, I don’t see it as a crime against the law except in the case of where it is forced or paedophilia. The law is meant to protect the private rights of its citizens. Generally, what anybody does in the privacy of his bedroom shouldn’t concern anybody so long as it doesn’t infringe on the right of another person.
Freedom of expression and association are rights that are guaranteed in the Constitution and the constitution being the grund norm of the nation, any law made that is inconsistent to it is voidable to the point of that inconsistency.
However, I must point out that you can never seperate the laws of the society from the ‘volkgeist’ or spirit of the people. The spirit of the Nigerian people is greatly against homosexuality, that’s why the failures and the probable problems posed by this new law will pass the untrained eye.
The law does not show what constitutes elements of the crime; neither it does categorizes what sort of display of affection between people of the same sex will be classified as gay or, how do we prove beyond all reasonable doubt that a person has engaged in homosexual acts, except where it was done in the full glare of the public. These pointed lapses makes the law draconian and discriminatory at best.
The greatest injustice of all is where the Act seeks to punish those who witness it “directly or indirectly” or show even tacit support of it with a prison term of up to 10 years is the ultimate recipe for disaster, especially in the kind of country we live in. This is basically taking away the right of all Nigerians to hold a contrary opinion on the subject without facing the risk of a jail term.
What’s to stop Nigerian public officials and politicians alike from using this law as a tool of oppression?
Personally, I see the law as backlash to the increasing boldness of the homosexual community. I was shell-shocked when some time in 2012 or so, some LGBT activists came to Nigeria and attempted to sell the idea to the Nigerian Senate. The outrage it spawned was palpable and this probably informed the Senate to do the half-assed job it did.
For the record, same-sex relations between men has never been legal in Nigeria anyway. Section 217 of the Criminal Code Act penalizes indecent practices between males. A revision of the Criminal Code would have sufficed to ensure it is in tune with modern realities.
I don’t think the Anti-Gay law will stand the test of time because of the many lapses. By the time it comes up for interpretation before an erudite Supreme Court judge, the ridiculous aspects will be done away with.
Like I have constantly maintained, the National Assembly is full of lazy and ignorant jokers. This new law has no bearing on development in Nigeria. If they want to show Nigerians that they are earning their ridiculous emoluments, we have laws dating back to as early as 1900’s begging for revision; the PIB is still stuck in limbo.
They have used this to cover the eyes of Nigerians to more important issues and personally, we have over-flogged the back and forth arguments enough. I think it’s time we put the issue to rest and face more important ones.
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