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Nigerian politicians reportedly hit back at Theresa May about LGBT rights after her apology to the Commonwealth

Jess Glass April 22, 2018

Nigerian politicians have reportedly hit back at Prime Minister Theresa May after she promoted LGBT rights in the Commonwealth countries that still criminalise homosexuality.

During the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) meeting on Tuesday, Prime Minister Theresa May made a high-profile intervention where she spoke about the UK’s regret at imposing anti-gay laws in former colonies.

May noted that 36 of the 53 Commonwealth countries continue to criminalise homosexuality, saying: “I deeply regret the fact that such laws were introduced, and the legacy of discrimination, violence and even death that persists today.

“As a family of nations, we must respect one another’s cultures and traditions, but we must do so in a manner consistent with our common value of equality – a value that is clearly stated in the Commonwealth charter.

“Nobody should face discrimination or persecution because of who they are or who they love.”

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May and Prince Harry attend a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Getty Images)

Related: Commonwealth of homophobia: One billion live under anti-gay laws exported by Britain

May continued: “The UK stands ready to support any Commonwealth member wanting to reform outdated legislation that makes such discrimination possible, because the world has changed.”

According to Nigerian news outlets, several Nigerian politicians have criticised the British Prime Minister for asking any country to change its laws on homosexuality.

Femi Gbajabiamila, the majority leader of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, said that he “seriously doubted” any reversal of Nigeria’s harsh penalties for homosexuality in a statement to Sunday Punch.

Gay in nigeria

Currently, homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria, with some parts of the conservative country handing down prison sentences of to up to 14 years for being gay.

Gbajabiamila was supported by the Chief Whip Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, who reportedly said the debate on LGBT rights was “conclusive.”

“As far as we are concerned in the National Assembly, this matter was conclusive and we will never revisit it,” he said.

“Nigeria is not the UK or the USA and we cannot operate under their dictates, especially in the areas of social morality. We are not a secular country like the US. And we should not be mistaken by any country or organisation anywhere in the world.”

Nigeria LGBTIs

Ado-Doguwa continued: “A country like Nigeria that is strictly guided by Islamic and Christian codes respectively will not contemplate this act of immorality no matter what global consequences we may have to face.”

However, some politicians were more reserved and said that the decision on any changes would have to come from the President, Muhammadu Buhari.

Senator Ben Murray-Bruce said: “We will wait for the position of the President. If he wants to review it, he should transmit a letter to us, telling us that he is convinced about same-sex marriage. He should tell us his views, whether he is for it or against it.

Theresa May and Muhammadu Buhari (Photo: BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

“If someday, Africa evolves to the level of endorsing gay marriage, fine, but now, our population evidently does not want to make this a priority issue and it is not a priority for us.”

A Nigerian newspaper made headlines on Thursday after an opinion columnist said that Theresa May was only supporting LGBT rights in the Commonwealth because she is a lesbian.

More: Africa, commonwealth, Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting 2018, LGBT rights, Nigeria, Nigeria, same sex marriage

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