United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and outspoken LGBT advocate Navi Pillay (right) expressed outrage at Nigeria's new anti-homosexuality law, calling it "draconian" and saying that it egregiously violated the rights of LGBT Nigerians.
"Rarely have I seen a piece of legislation that in so few paragraphs directly violates so many basic, universal human rights," Commissioner Pillay said in a press release. "Rights to privacy and non-discrimination, rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, rights to freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention: this law undermines all of them."
"Even before this Act was signed into law, consensual same sex relationships were already criminalized in Nigeria - violating rights to privacy and to freedom from discrimination, both of which are protected by the Nigerian Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Nigeria has ratified.
"This draconian new law makes an already bad situation much worse. It purports to ban same-sex marriage ceremonies but in reality does much more.
"It turns anyone who takes part in, witnesses or helps organize a same sex marriage into a criminal. It punishes people for displaying any affection in public towards someone of the same sex. And in banning gay organizations it puts at risk the vital work of human rights defenders who speak up for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people."
Indeed, Nigeria's law punishes same-sex couples who marry, even outside the country, with up to 14 years in prison. It also imposes 10-year jail sentences for the other "offenses" Ms. Pillay outlined above.
Commissioner Pillay said the law risks fanning the flames of existing anti-LGBT prejudice within Nigeria and puts the community there at an even greater risk for violence and discrimination. She said that she hopes Nigeria's Supreme Court will review the law for possible constitutional violations as quickly as possible.