Gay rights record threatens Nigerian bid for Commonwealth Games

Rachel Charman May 18, 2007
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Debate is taking place over whether or not Nigeria should host the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The Nigerian city of Abuja is in direct competition with Glasgow to host the international sporting competition.

Nigeria’s poor gay rights record, however, has thrown its application for the games into question.

The Commonwealth Games was founded under its original name, the British Empire Games, in 1930. The Games are held every four years, giving around 5,000 athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations to compete in Olympic sports.

The Commonwealth Games Federation constitution dictates that “there shall be no discrimination against any country or person on any grounds whatsoever including race, colour, gender, religion or politics” in Article 7.

The CGF website also claims that “Underlying every decision made by the CGF are three core values – HUMANITY, EQUALITY AND DESTINY.”

Nigerian law directly contradicts this, stating 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.

The Nigerian government is also in the process of bringing in the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, under which anyone who “performs, witnesses, aids or abets the ceremony of same sex marriage” or is involved “publicly or privately in positive representation of or for same sex relationships” can be imprisoned for five years.

Sharia law is upheld in many northern states of Nigeria. This dictates that gay people should be stoned to death.

Though Abuja is not one of these states, the issue has still given cause for concern.

Mike Hooper, the chief executive of the CGF told The Guardian that the matter will be dealt during the selection process.

He said: “As to the final decision-making of our membership and whatever issues they take into account and how they cast their vote – that is a matter for them.”

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, told The Guardian : “The games is meant to be a celebration of high ideals as well as sportsmanship.”

“To invite people to a country where they are liable to be imprisoned seems inimical to any claim they’re keen to engage them in competitive sport.”

The Commonwealth Games Evaluation Commission is will visit both cities next month to inspect the facilities and venues put in place for the 2014 event. The team are expected in Abuja on 4th June and Glasgow 10th June.

The winning bid will be announced in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo on November 9, 2007.

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