Activists have delivered a copy of a 60,000-strong global petition addressed to the Nigerian President, urging him not to sign in new laws that target gays.
Representatives from the Nigerian LGBTQI in Diaspora, and campaigners from AllOut.org, who are running the petition on their website, rallied outside the Nigerian Mission to the United Nations, New York yesterday.
At the end of last month, the Nigerian Senate voted through a bill criminalising gay relationships, with prison sentences of up to 14 years for those couples who try to enter into an unofficial union and ten years for witnesses.
All-Out.org says the text of the bill includes any public relationship between two people of the same gender under its definition of same-sex marriage.
In three days, more than 8,000 people had added their names to the letter by Nigerian activist Ifeanyi Orazulike, asking President Goodluck Johnson not to sign the bill into law.
Ifeanyi Orazulike said the government needed to stop turning gays into “refugees”.
She said: “Instead of passing anti-gay laws, Nigeria needs to focus on repealing its sodomy laws, laws that were originally imposed by British colonialism.”
AllOut.org co-founder Andre Banks, said: “The measure of every great democracy is how it treats its minority citizens. ALL Nigerians deserve the same rights and privileges guaranteed by the constitution.
“AllOut.org stands with our friends in Nigeria, and everywhere around the world, where opportunistic politicians seek to take away fundamental rights from LGBT people.”
The petition, which is asking people around the world to add their support to the letter, can be found on the All-Out.org website, at www.allout.org/nigeria. The full text of Ms Orazulike’s letter is reproduced below.
To President Goodluck Jonathan,
My name is Ifeanyi Orazulike, and I am not illegal.
As a Nigerian citizen, and a public health advocate, I call upon you to stop the draconian, anti-human rights, anti- HIV/AIDS prevention and un-democratic legislation just passed by the national Senate.
if this bill is approved Nigeria will place itself outside the community of democratic nations, in a moment in which the country is facing serious internal and external anti-democratic threats. The implications of the bill with its recent modification would affect tireless and long years of work in the protection and promotion of human rights, HIV/AIDS prevention, and the entrenchment of democracy in our country.
As the elected guardian of the human and civil rights of ALL Nigerians, I urge you to show respect for the diversity in our great democracy, and refuse to sign this bill.
Ifeanyi Kelly Orazulike
Director, International Center for Advocacy on Right to Health (ICARH)