WLUML Stands With Nigerian LGBT People, And All Persecuted For Their Sexuality Worldwide
6th March 2014 – Ahead of the Global Day of Action against the Nigerian anti-gay laws taking place tomorrow, Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) and the Violence is Not our Culture (VNC) campaign express our solidarity with the LGBT people of Nigeria in resisting these laws, which contradict human rights.
As a network of Global South women’s rights activists and advocates, we have long seen the way that claims to cultural ‘authenticity’ and regressive interpretations of religion have been used to justify the violence that women suffer. The state-sanctioned persecution of LGBT people happening in Nigeria stems from the very same ideology, and uses the same ‘justifications’.
We remind the world that visions of national and religious identity that rely on violence and discrimination cannot be tolerated; this ‘culture’ is culture as defined only by those in oppressive positions of power. We stand with the people of Nigeria who, in protesting these laws, send a strong message: ‘violence is not our culture’. We stand with LGBT people and all marginalised groups in demanding their right to define their own culture.
We are deeply concerned that what we are seeing in Nigeria is part of a trend of rising regressive attitudes towards gender and sexuality. Worldwide, and in the African context particularly at this moment, it seems politicians are using the homosexuality ‘debate’ as an opportunity to gain political traction, often backed by hate-filled media outlets. This political traction revolves around questions of cultural and religious identity and desires to resist cultural imperialism from the West.
We must emphasise that these appeals to self-determination free of Western influence are extremely selective. Women’s and LGBT people’s rights and freedoms are the first to be sacrificed on the altar of cultural ‘authenticity’ while many other economic, political, and cultural exchanges with the West continue unchallenged. In opposition to these claims to ‘authenticity’ we need only note that the spread of anti-LGBT sentiment in Africa has itself been fuelled by connections with religious fundamentalists from the West. What is more, the Nigerian laws in question actually contravene the constitution of Nigeria.
Self-determination is a valid goal but one that is being appropriated by a right-wing agenda, an agenda set on diminishing people’s rights and freedoms. As already stated, the backlash against LGBT people is directly linked to the policing of gender norms and violence against women. It is also part of a broader picture of the narrowing of space for dissent; homophobic laws are one part of a more general crackdown on civil society and freedoms of expression and association.
We condemn the passing of this law in Nigeria, and all laws that criminalise homosexuality. Solidarity with Nigerian LGBT people. Solidarity with the marginalised of the world.
Please share our statement widely via email, Facebook and Twitter – make as much noise on social media as possible. Tweet using the hashtags #istandwith9jaLGBT and #violenceisnotourculture
Full text of the Nigerian Bill (formally titled ‘Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill, 2011): http://www.scribd.com/doc/74807203/Nigeria-Same-Sex-Marriage-Bill-final
Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Consitutional Law (CSCHRCL)'s updated Guidelines on how National, International and Regional partners can support Ugandan LGBTI Persons and their allies: http://www.ugandans4rights.org/index.php/press-releases/428-updated-guidelines-on-how-national-international-and-regional-partners-can-support-ugandan-lgbti-persons-and-their-allies.html
List of Jurisdictions Criminalising Private, Consensual Sexual Conduct Between Adults of the Same Sex: http://www.humandignitytrust.org/pages/COUNTRY%20INFO/Criminalising%20Homosexuality
Resistance rises to Africa’s anti-gay laws: http://www.frostillustrated.com/2014/resistance-rises-to-africas-anti-gay-laws/
Global Protest against Nigerian Anti-Gay Law facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/577926895637542/589406541156244/
US Conservative Groups Supported Nigerian Anti-Gay Law that Led to Wave of Arrests; http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/us-conservative-groups-supported-nigerian-anti-gay-law-led-wave-arrests
 We are aware that the term ‘LGBT’ can be problematic in that it does not capture the way all people with non-conforming sexualities express their identity. However, we use it as a shorthand here for all those whose sexual orientation, perceived sexual orientation, or gender presentation sets them apart from the perceived heterosexual ‘norm’ and serves as a basis for their exclusion, discrimination, and oppression.
 The bill bans same-sex marriage and civil unions, prescribes 14 years jail for participants in same-sex relations and 10 years jail for those who aid or witness such relations. It also outlaws gay advocacy gruops and same-sex public affection.
 Article 42 of Chapter IV of the Nigerian Consitution enshrines freedom from discrimination as a Fundamental Right. See http://www.nigeria-law.org/ConstitutionOfTheFederalRepublicOfNigeria.htm
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