Members of the European Parliament have drawn attention to the harassment faced by people working for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in Nigeria.

MEPs from the Parliament’s Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights have written to the Ambassador Usman A Baraya at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the EU.

“We have to react to continued and life-threatening media harassment of human rights defenders taking place in Nigeria,” said Michael Cashman, President of the Intergroup.

“Media outlets in the country have been inciting hatred against human rights activists of the NGO House of Rainbow in Lagos and many of them are scared for their lives and hiding or have left the country.

“That is unacceptable and the government must intervene.”

Rev Jide Macaulay established the House of Rainbow in 2006. It is the only ministry in Nigeria that welcomes gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people.

The “gay church” has received negative coverage in the Nigerian press.

“House of Rainbow Metropolitan Church, a yet-to-be-registered church, publicly declared its exclusivity for professed homosexuals, as it organised the first ever conference for the practitioners,” Sun News reported on October 4th.

“Ironically, the gathering, which observers described as debauchery, took place at the United Bible University, the same hall where the faithful of the Christian Pentecostal Mission (CPM) conduct their services.

“On the heels of the gathering came a resounding condemnation from the public, following which security operatives reportedly launched a manhunt for the organisers.”

It is estimated that 56 million Nigerians, 40% of the population are Christians. 50% are Muslims.

The Anglican Bishop of Uyo, Rt. Rev. Isaac Orama, last year condemned the activities of homosexuals and lesbians in language that typifies Nigerian Anglican leaders’ hostility to gays.

“Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman,” he said.

“Those who practice them are insane, Satanic and are not fit to live because they are rebels to God’s purpose for man.”

Nigerian law states that anyone who has “carnal knowledge of any person against order of nature or permits a male to have carnal knowledge of him” can be imprisoned for 14 years.

In 2007 the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill was debated in the Nigerian Parliament but did not proceed.

The proposed new law called for imprisonment for any person who “goes through the ceremony of marriage with a person of the same sex”, anyone who helps them and any gay clubs or organisations.