Nigerian Justice Minister and Attorney General Mohammed Adoke has claimed his country passed a bill making same-sex marriage a crime and further criminalizing homosexuality in order to protect gay people in responding to a request by UN human rights chief Navi Pillay for the law to be suspended.
‘The government had to step in with punitive measures so as to prevent citizens from taking laws into their hands,’ Adoke said, according to This Day Live.
He described the outcome as a ‘win-win situation.’
It is an issue that majority of the people, at the moment, do think it is contrary to our belief and cannot be tolerated. It is a very sensitive issue. Should the government toy with opinion of the vast majority of the people, it is capable of bringing down the government.’
Pillay also expressed her concern about the affect that implementing the law could have in the fight against HIV in Nigeria.
Pillay is in Nigeria this week to raise a number of concerns about Nigeria’s human rights record and also met with Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister Aminu Wali to discuss thedraconian anti-gay legislation which bans any kind of advocacy by or on behalf of LGBTI people and makes any involvement with a same-sex marriage ceremony a serious criminal offense.
Nigeria already criminalized gay sex with 14 years in jail and those convicted of homosexuality in the Muslim north of the country can be executed under sharia law.
Pillay told Wali she understood that Nigerians found the issue of same-sex marriage difficult but stressed that Nigeria did not have to violate people’s fundamental human rights to deal with the issue.
‘My concern is that it is a violation of law of human rights ... and civil rights,’ Pillay said, according to Panapress.
‘It contravenes the African charter and the Nigeria constitution itself. My major concern is that it has come to public discussion in Nigeria. I am seeking your good office to see whether you can be of help to stop prosecution at this moment.’
‘As you know, as High Commissioner for Human Rights, I seek the protection and promotion of human rights to all. So, that is my objective in coming to Nigeria.’
Pillay is also meeting with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan during her visit.