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Group calls for amnesty to new Act violators

16 January 2014, 07:40Augustine Osayande

Abuja - Amnesty International, the human rights group, has urged the government to release people arrested under the new Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act and drop charges against them.

“Those arrested under this draconian new legislation must be released immediately and the charges against them dropped. Locking someone up for their sexual orientation violates the most basic human rights standards,” Makmid Kamara, Amnesty International’s Nigeria Researcher, stated.

Kamara added that the “deeply repressive” Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act must be withdrawn without delay.

“With the stroke of a pen, President Goodluck Jonathan has essentially turned Nigeria into one of the world’s least tolerant societies. Nigeria must immediately release the more than 10 people already arrested under a deeply oppressive new law that runs roughshod over a range of human rights and discriminates based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity,” the official said.

Arrests have been reported in Anambra, Enugu, Imo and Oyo States since Monday, when it was revealed that Jonathan had signed the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act into law.

Kamara said those targeted under the new law included five allegedly gay men who were arrested in Ibadan, Oyo State. They have since been released on bail.

In the south-eastern city of Awka, Anambra state, six persons were reportedly arrested and detained by the police.

Human rights defenders told Amnesty International that the arrests and intimidation of LGBTI people in Nigeria was expanding across the country.

“Human rights defenders also told Amnesty International that police in northern Bauchi state have drawn up a list of 167 people targeted for arrest based on their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.  An Assistant Commissioner of Police in Bauchi, confirmed to Amnesty International that the police have a list of suspected LGBTI people in Bauchi as part of their profiling of criminals,” said Kamara.

“Those arrested under this draconian new legislation must be released immediately and the charges against them dropped. Locking someone up for their sexual orientation violates the most basic human rights standards.”

The official said the law was a throwback to the worst of the military rule-era when a range of human rights were treated with contempt.

“In a society where corruption is rampant, this law could also be used for harassment, extortion and blackmail of people by law enforcement officers and other members of the public. Reports that the police in one state are apparently drawing up lists of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community to target is extremely worrying. The deeply repressive Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act must be withdrawn without delay.”

– CAJ News


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