LGBT rights in Nigeria

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LGBT rights in Nigeria
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Illegal
Death Penalty
Areas under Sharia:
Men: Capital punishmentTemplate:Smallsup
Women: LashingsTemplate:Smallsup
Template:Smallsup(Muslims only)
Non-Sharia regions: Male, up to 14 years in prison; Female, legal
Recognition of
Legislation pending to constitutionally ban all forms of same-sex unions (with hefty penalties for offenders)
Discrimination protections No

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Nigeria face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Nigeria—a largely conservative country of more than 150 million people, split between a mainly Muslim north and a largely Christian south.

Homosexual activity is punishable by death by stoning in the 12 states that have adopted Shari'a law, and by up to 14 years imprisonment throughout Nigeria. There is no legal protection against discrimination. Very few gays are out, and violence against LGBT people is frequent. Legislation is pending to criminalize same-sex marriage throughout Nigeria.

According to the 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project, a strong 97% of Nigeria residents said that homosexuality should be rejected by society, making it one of the highest rejection of homosexuality in the 44 countries surveyed.[1]

Laws against homosexuality

Twelve northern states have adopted the Shari'a penal code: Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Jigawa, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara. The Shari'a penal code does not apply to non-Muslims.[2]

Homosexuality in Nigeria is illegal according to Chapter 21, Articles 214 and 217 of the Nigerian penal code and can be punished by imprisonment of up to 14 years throughout Nigeria. In the 12 northern states that have adopted Shari'a law, anal intercourse (Liwat) is punished with 100 lashes (for unmarried Muslim men) and one year's imprisonment and death by stoning for married or divorced Muslim men.[2] [3] As of March 2006, press reports say that more than a dozen people have been sentenced to death by stoning since 2000, but the sentences had not been carried out.[3]

Gender identity/expression

The Shari'a penal code prohibits men from dressing as women or addressing each other as women.[4]

Recognition of same-sex relationships

On January 18, 2007 the Federal Executive Council approved a law, Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2006, prohibiting same sex marriages and sent it to the National assembly for urgent action. According to the Minister of Justice, Chief Bayo Ojo, the law was pushed by President Olusegun Obasanjo following demonstrations for same sex marriage during the international conference on HIV/AIDS (ICASA) in 2005.

The proposed bill calls for five years imprisonment for anyone who undergoes, "performs, witnesses, aids, or abets" a same-sex marriage. It would also prohibit any display of a "same-sex amorous relationship" and adoption of children by gays or lesbians.[5] The bill is expected to receive little or no opposition in Parliament. The same-sex marriage ban would make Nigeria the second country in Africa to criminalize such unions. In 2005, the Ugandan constitution was amended to ban same-sex marriage.[3]

The same bill would also call for five years imprisonment for involvement in public advocacy or associations supporting the rights of lesbian and gay people[3]. Included in the bill is a proposal to ban any form of relationship with a gay person. The intent of the bill is to ban anything remotely associated with being 'gay' or just gay in the country.

In February 2006, the United States State Department condemned the proposal.[3] In March 2006, 16 international human rights groups signed a letter condemning the bill, calling it a violation of the freedoms of expression, association and assembly guaranteed by international law as well as by the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.

Discrimination protections

There is no legislation protecting against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Living conditions

Public hostility to homosexual relations is widespread.[6] Very few gays are out,[4] and violence against LGBT people is frequent.[7]

On September 12, 2008, a number of newspapers published the names, addresses and photos of the 12 members of the House of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church, a LGBT-friendly church in Lagos. As a result, some members were threatened, beaten and stoned. One woman was attacked by 11 men. As of the end of 2008, the authorities had not begun to investigate the incidents.[4] Some members were evicted from their homes or lost their jobs. Some had to go into hiding. The church was forced to close due to police harassment and threats.[7]


Discrimination against persons living with HIV/AIDS is widespread, as HIV/AIDS is blamed on immoral conduct.[4] Public education campaigns have been initiated to reduce the stigma of HIV/AIDS.[4]

Although there is discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation and gender identity in Nigeria, HIV programming exist for Men who have sex with Men. Organizations like the Independent Project for Equal Rights implement a sexual health program for MSM in Lagos state through a peer education approach and also organization vocational training that will enhance the skills of the men and make them less vulnerable to contracting HIV.

TIP's approach to HIV prevention is not only surrounded by condom and lube promotion but also capacity building of the men so that they can be less dependent or discouraged in engaging in sex work.

See also


  2. 2.0 2.1 Sub Saharan Africa, Nigeria. Travel advice by country. United Kingdom, Foreign & Commonwealth Office (2009-03-20). Retrieved on 2009-03-20.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "Nigeria To Criminalize Gay Marriage & LGBT Meetings",, January 19, 2006. URL accessed on March 26, 2006.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 2008 Human Rights Report: Nigeria. 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. United States, Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (2009-02-25). Retrieved on 2009-03-20.
  5. "Nigeria: Obasanjo Must Withdraw Bill to Criminalize Gay Rights", Reuters AlertNet. March 23, 2006. URL accessed on March 26, 2006
  6. Heidi Vogt, "Nigeria must withdraw anti-gay bill", Independent Online. March 24, 2006. URL accessed on March 26, 2006
  7. 7.0 7.1 House Of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church Statement at the Public Hearing at the Nigeria Parliament 11th March 2009‏. House Of Rainbow MCC (2009-03-11). Retrieved on 2009-03-20.

External links


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