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Nigeria delays ruling on anti-gay law again

Nigeria delays ruling on anti-gay law again

A Nigerian court last week postponed the ruling on a case seeking to repeal of the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act for a second time.

President Goodluck Jonathan signed the ‘Jail the Gays’ bill into law in January, which not only bans gay marriage but punishes gay couples who marry with 14 years in jail and wedding guests with 10 years imprisonment.

Anyone who knows a gay person must report them or could be locked up for five years.

Straight ally Joseph Teriah Ebah sued the Federal Government in Abuja High Court because he said the law violated the fundamental human rights of LGBTI Nigerians as enshrined in the constitution.

Justice Abdul Kafarati should have ruled on the case by 20 June according to the constitution, which states human rights claims have to be dealt with within 90 days.

However, the ruling was postponed until 25 September and then again until the 21 October.

Nigerian LGBTI filmmaker Elizabeth Funke Obisanya told GSN, ‘The judgment is very important for all Nigerians, not only the LGBTI community.’

‘From the LGBTI community point of view, if it is repealed it would mean that the community would no longer be persona non grata but would be accepted back into Nigerian daily lives. Those that suffer from HIV can go and get treatment, people can carry on with their normal every day lives without fear or intimidation and without denying who they are.

‘The main opponent in the Nigerian case is the "Christian" church. As you know Nigeria has a large "Christian" community there and their influence is huge even if it is the wrong influence. There are already reports that some Churches would appeal the ruling if it was repealed.’

Ebah told O-blog-dee-o-blog-da before the latest hearing that he was ‘cautiously optimistic’ the law would be repealed.

He said, ‘As far as the Nigerian constitution as it relates to human rights is concerned, it is obvious that Nigeria’s anti-gay law violates it and so shouldn’t stand but we all know that judges can sometimes hide behind their fingers and make bizarre decisions so who knows.

‘My prayer is that the judge gives our constitution a liberal interpretation and if he does that then we have a good chance.’

Nigeria already punishes gay sex with 14 years in jail, and stoning in some northern Muslim states.