Nigeria: A country in reverse

Equality. It’s an idea for which countless nations and millions of people across the world have worked and even sacrificed their lives.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan recently signed legislation that would allow harsh consequences for those who don’t consider themselves straight and who participate in gay rights groups.

According to CNN, Nigerian authorities have arrested 10 people and dozens of additional arrests are pending. Those arrested could serve a 14-year prison sentence.

This is an awful way to penalize those who cannot change who they are or who they love. It’s the most backwards and repressive of all laws in that way and should not be tolerated in any corner of the globe.

Nigeria’s criminalization of homosexuality dates all the way back to British colonial times, and gay sex acts are considered “Offenses Against Morality” in the country, according to a recent Time article. The new law merely extends that bigotry present since colonization.

Unfortunately, the new legislation is popular among Nigerians. However, outside nations have expressed their concern. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said last week that he was “deeply concerned” by the measure.

The law was primarily created to prevent same-sex marriages in Nigeria. What is so disheartening is that no individuals in Nigeria have expressed interest in gay marriage, according to CNN. I find it extremely difficult to understand how Nigerian authorities are arresting individuals when no one is breaking this law.

A gay man from Lagos expressed how the new legislation “just legalized violence, stigma and discrimination.” The new law violates natural human rights and does in fact promote discrimination. The issue of human rights around the globe continues to be debated while nations upon nations of people sit and watch.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS has criticized the law, stating that it could prevent access to HIV services. UNAIDS explained, “the provisions of the law could lead to increased homophobia, discrimination, denial of HIV services and violence based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The law is extremely unfortunate and violates the most basic of human rights. Not only is it a violation of human rights, but it could potentially cause violent outrage in Nigeria.

A country where authorities and individuals are practically seeking out members of the LGBTQA community to arrest is extremely wrong. While many nations are making efforts to welcome these individuals, Nigeria is moving in the opposite direction.

Prejudice exists and it always will, but the law is disgusting. In just a few paragraphs, it violates the most universal of human rights.

Reach the columnist at Brooke.Ramos@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter@brookesramos