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Nigeria: Plan to outlaw gay media

Tue 12 Dec 2006 In: International News

A proposed Nigerian law would make it illegal just to share a meal at a cafe with gay friends. The proposal under debate in Nigeria's House of Representatives would outlaw not just gay marriages, but any form of association between gay people, social or otherwise, and publication of any materials deemed to promote a ‘same-sex amorous relationship'. Engaging in homosexual acts is already illegal in Nigeria, with those convicted facing jail terms in the south and execution in the north. Anyone attending a meeting between gay people, even two friends in a private house, could receive a sentence of five years under the act. Few in Nigeria's deeply closeted gay community are publicly opposing the bill and it is widely expected to pass. "This meeting, right here, would be illegal," says activist Bisi Alimi, stabbing the air with a French fry for emphasis as he sits at a table with three gay friends and a reporter. "We could be arrested for talking about this. You could be arrested for writing about us." Other activities specifically prohibited under the proposed law include participating in gay clubs, or reading books, watching films or accessing Internet sites that "promote" homosexuality. Alimi's been trying to drum up united opposition to the legislation, but says Nigeria's homosexual community is so far underground and the subject is so taboo that it's been difficult. Civil rights organizations and human rights lawyers have said that the bill could also be used to deny legal representation to gay people who have been arrested. Nigerians have been publicly flogged, exhibited before the press naked, or beaten severely in prison after being charged with homosexuality. Alimi's companions say they're wary of voicing too much opposition to the new law out of fear of arrest. Death sentences have been meted out in the north, though no one has yet been executed. "There is a lot of ignorance, and that is why people are afraid," Alimi says. "But we are not willing to come out and say, yes, I am gay. Here I am. I am human too."     Ref: The New York Blade (m)

Credit: News Staff

First published: Tuesday, 12th December 2006 - 12:00pm

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