Campaigning for next year’s federal elections has heated up in Nigeria with one candidate declaring he would not criminalise gay people.
Donald Duke made the promise on the YouTube talk show, On The Couch, which is interviewing all the presidential hopefuls.
The former Cross River state governor said he did not understand the ‘feelings’ gay people had, but he would not criminalize them.
‘I don’t understand the emotional feelings a gay person would have toward someone of their sexuality. I don’t understand it. But I would not criminalise them. I would ensure that they have the protection of the law,’ he told hosts Falz and Laila.
Duke did reinforce that while he would not criminalize gay people they should keep their sexuality behind closed.
‘But if they want to exhibit their sexuality, then that’s an affront on the current norms of society,’ Duke said.
‘I can have a gay person in my cabinet, his sexuality is private to him. I don’t want to know if he’s gay, it’s not my business. My business is if he can perform the assignment that he’s been assigned.’
Co-host Falz pressed Duke on what he meant by ‘exhibit their sexuality’. Duke recalled an anecdote of when he saw two men kissing at an airport in New York.
‘Keep it in your house,’ he said.
The second co-host, Laila, pushed Duke on the point asking if it was ok for straight couples to kiss in public.
‘Yes, the society accepts that as a norm,’ Duke told her.
When Falz pushed him on the topic saying Duke’s views were discriminatory, the former Governor showed his true feelings on the issue.
‘The day you try and kiss me, I will slap you. So don’t even try it,’ Duke told Falz.
Gay life in Nigeria
Homosexual activity is illegal in Nigeria and carries a jail term of up to 14 years. Police regularly target and persecute the LGBTI community, even this week, police raided a party arresting 57 men on suspicion of being gay.
Nigerians will head to the polls in February, 2019.