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Euro Parliament, U.S. legislators denounce Nigerian bill
by Rex Wockner
2007-05-01

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The European Parliament has called on Nigeria's National Assembly not to pass an extreme anti-gay bill that would outlaw gay marriage, visiting a gay Internet site, public or private gatherings of gay people, and nearly everything else associated with being gay.

But the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association says the parliament's March 16 move was not strong enough.

'We believe a more targeted resolution on the specific situation of LGBT human rights defenders would have sent a stronger message to Nigeria,' said Executive Director Patricia Prendiville. 'We fear that the current outrageous bill outlawing any activities representing and protecting the human rights of LGBT people in Nigeria is not prominently dealt with by the Parliament, and this issue might lose its momentum by being shelved together with other ongoing human rights concerns in Nigeria.'

The bizarre bill states, in part: 'Publicity, procession and public show of same-sex amorous relationship through the electronic or print media physically, directly, indirectly or otherwise are prohibited in Nigeria. ... Any person who is involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies and organizations, sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly in public and in private is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a term of 5 years imprisonment.'

In Washington on March 20, openly lesbian U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and 31 of her colleagues sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging her to contact the government of Nigeria and voice opposition to the legislation.

'The bill outlaws advocacy organizations or associations supporting the rights of lesbian and gay people, and prohibits public expressions of support for equal rights for gay and lesbian Nigerians,' the House members said. 'Not only would lesbian and gay Nigerians be treated as second-class citizens and constantly in fear of arrest and prosecution for simply exercising free speech if this legislation were to pass, but it would also greatly hamper the vital mission of human rights defenders in advocating for basic and equal human rights, as well as Nigeria's massive battle against HIV/AIDS.'

The legislators also urged the State Department to issue a public statement opposing the bill.


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