The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Aminu Wali, has told the United Nations that Nigeria will not repeal the law banning same-sex relationship and marriage.
He urged the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pillay, who paid him a courtesy visit on Thursday in Abuja, to accept Nigeria’s position on same-sex marriage.
According to him, same-sex marriage is against the way of life of Nigerians who have expressed support for the government on the anti-gay law.
He said 99 per cent of Nigerians supported the anti-gay law.
Wali said based on the culture and tradition of the Nigerian people, they would never accept same-sex marriage and relationship.
“With time, things may improve, but Nigeria is fundamentally a very religious society and our people cannot understand same-sex relationship.
“Personally too, I do not accept same-sex marriage even though it conflicts with international norms on human rights,” he said.
The minister chided some members of the international community for making “a lot of noise” after President Goodluck Jonathan approved the law.
He said that Nigeria had always operated a legal system that did not recognise same-sex marriage. The minister cited the country’s common, Sharia and customary laws as examples of the nation’s laws that prohibited homosexuality.
He assured the UN chief that the law prohibiting same-sex marriage in Nigeria would not allow unnecessary prosecution of people.
The minister said that Nigeria had respect for freedom of speech and human rights, adding that “we have always had good records in all aspects of human rights.”
On the Boko Haram insurgency, Wali said that the Federal Government had consistently protected the rights of insurgents captured during military operations, even when they did not deserve such protection.
Wali said there was no credible case of “extra-judicial killings or summary executions” of insurgents captured during military operations.
He said that the captured insurgents were in various jails in the country, while some had been subjected to prosecution.
Wali pledged Nigeria’s support for the UN Human Rights Council resolution to end attacks, harassment and reprisals against human rights defenders.
The resolution was adopted in September 2013 by the UNHRC.
Earlier, Pillay had said that the anti-gay law “is a violation of the human rights enshrined in the international covenant of civil and political rights. It contravenes Africa’s charter and the Nigerian constitution itself.”
She added that the UN was concerned with the negative consequences the law would have on some people.
Pillay argued that it might deter the affected persons from taking up HIV education, treatment and care facilities and also hindered government and the civil society groups.
“I am seeking your good office to see some kind of moratorium on prosecution at this moment. We can do much more work to have all Nigerians respect the human rights of all people, to respect diversity, to promote values of tolerance, acceptance with targeted training for law enforcement and other things.”
Pillay, who noted that Nigeria had improved on human rights protection, pointed out that the country was still lagging behind in some of the human rights reports.
“Nigeria is behind in many of its reports and I am here to see how best we can support you in catching up with those reports,” she said.
Citing the resolution adopted by the UN Council on Human Rights in March 2013, she argued that the use and abuse of national law to impair and criminalise the work of human right defenders was “a contravention of international law and must end.”
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