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NGO petitions UN over same-sex Act

14 January 2014, 09:33Okoro Chinedu

Lagos - Aids-Free World, the international nongovernmental organisation, appealed to the United Nations to intervene after Nigeria outlawed same-sex marriages.

The organisation raised its concern in a letter Paula Donovan and Stephen Lewis, the Co-Directors addressed to United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, and UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé.

“AIDS-Free World assumes that the United Nations was deeply dismayed to learn that on 7 January 2014, when President Goodluck Jonathan signed an Act that prohibits marriages and civil unions between persons of the same sex throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he also endorsed a clause in the Act that reads, “A person or group of persons who…supports the registration, operation and sustenance of gay clubs, societies, organizations, processions or meetings in Nigeria commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of 10 years imprisonment,”” they wrote in a letter titled Nigeria’s war on LGBT: an urgent appeal to the UN for information and guidance.

“As you know, this Act was passed by Nigeria’s Senate and House of Representatives and forwarded for the President’s signature nearly one month ago, on 17 December 2013. We have no doubt that while awaiting President Jonathan’s decision, the United Nations and its agencies, UNAIDS in particular, fully considered the implications that its passage would have on the world body’s work and that of its civil society partners in Nigeria. We appeal to you now for your much needed information and guidance.”

Donovan and Lewis said they were aware that UN staff are immune from arrest and prosecution under this new law and will, in theory, be able to meet internally to discuss policy and programmes for marginalized and vulnerable LGBT.

“But such meetings would now be pointless, since they can neither involve nor benefit LGBT in the country.  In fact, to invite representatives of LGBT organizations to such meetings would be to court their imprisonment,” they wrote.

They asked if the UN Secretariat would be asking the government of Nigeria voluntarily to relinquish the Security Council seat it assumed earlier this month until such a time as the Member State was no longer acting in violation of its international obligations.

“Excellencies, like all who consider human rights inviolable, we are shocked by the action of President Jonathan, and we look to the UN to provide guidance and leadership to the international community. Interim answers to the six questions we posed, while not necessarily permanent solutions, are necessary to ensure that the global response to HIV is neither paralyzed at this critical time, nor set on a disastrous reverse course. Your immediate responses will be most appreciated.”

– CAJ News


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