On May 30 2013 Nigeria passed the Same Sex Marriage Act. This bill had disastrous impacts on the LGBTQ community in Nigeria, imposing 14 years of imprisonment for those caught entering a same-sex marriage.
Though this wasn’t the only act that the bill made illegal. It also prohibited the registration of and any participation in gay clubs, societies and organisations, as well as the public show of same-sex amorous relationships in either a direct or indirect manner. These acts, as well as helping with a same-sex wedding ceremony, all carry a punishment of ten years in prison.
The bill received little opposition from the Nigerian people, with the Pew Global Attitudes Project showing that 98 per cent of Nigerian residents believe homosexuality should not be accepted in society. However, as the country already had various laws that made homosexuality illegal, it is worth questioning why they needed this new bill. This bill may have been introduced as a form of propaganda to incite fear into citizens and quell anyone speaking out for change. It could also be seen as a ridiculous appeal to similar countries, showing they didn’t have to fall into the sway towards global marriage equality.
In the rest of the world, there is a dramatic sway in the opposite direction, as in this same year France, Uruguay and New Zealand all legalised same-sex marriage. There is a huge global contrast on these issues, creating an atmosphere where we cannot celebrate every victory because of every wrong that is committed against the LGBTQ community.
A good example for the extent of this sway can be seen in the words of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, who denounced the bill by saying: “Rarely have I seen a piece of legislation that in so few paragraphs directly violates so many basic, universal human rights”.
As human beings, we always want to believe in social progress. Whilst we may believe that ‘it gets better’ for members of the LGBTQ community, this is far from the truth. But when we take off the rose-tinted glasses, this social progress it not as all-encompassing as it first appears to be. We are often too swayed by the more immediate progressive change and even though for many this is enough, we should all continue the fight for equal rights for all.