In preparing myself to sit down and write a compelling piece about the ‘Zupta’ saga and that it has a negative impact of the rule of law in South Africa; which has a destabilising effect and is adding to the weakening of the rand value – I discover something on the radio that in my mind overshadows money talk. Nigeria’s house of representatives has submitted a bill for signing by its President, Goodluck Jonathan, that aims to ban same-sex marriage.
The president has ninety days within which to sign the bill, thereafter, it will automatically passed as law. While there is room for tactical maneuvering, it seems unlikely that this bill will received any push back.
What is concerning is that when presented with the issue of human rights, the counter argument (the argument for the passing of this bill) is that in the animal kingdom, one does not find same sex orientation and that while we are superior to animals, we as humans have even less grounds for such behaviour. Any person familiar with this will know that homosexuality does occur quite notably among animals, moreover – if we are superior, why is the action or inaction of animals any justification for action or inaction among humans? This by no means refutes the fact that human rights – which is inalienable by all means – is grossly being transgressed here.
Those who engage in same sex marriage can face up to fourteen year of imprisonment, should President Jonathan sign this bill.
There seems to be no real opposition in the civil or non-governmental sphere in Nigeria and the reason therefore seems to be that there is a so-called understanding across the board that same sex marriage is fundamentally wrong and any support therefore will humiliate the families and communities of those who openly oppose it…
Already, there are talks that the United States of America will withdraw its financial aid that it gives to Nigeria, in its fight against HIV/AIDS; upon the signing of this bill. We are all aware that Nigeria and South Africa are leading nations of development in Africa, especially in their regions (ECOWAS and SADC) respectively and we are also aware that based upon this fact, South Africa and Nigeria are building relations to facilitate trade and attempting to set a developmental precedent for the rest of Africa. How is this bill going to impact upon the relations between South Africa and Nigeria, when South Africa is a society that has made strides and been among the global pioneers of the legitimization and legalization of same sex marriages?
Africa, a continent where there is no shortage of conflict and human suffering, can we really afford to regress in our capacity to accept one another; be that difference based on race, ethnicity, nationality, culture, language or sexual orientation. Let me state that my labelling homosexuality as ‘different’ is in itself problematic – in that the only difference is sexual preference and that is a private matter that ought to be respected and left up to the individual to decide.
In the wake of France’s legalisation of same-sex marriage, Nigeria’s strides to making same sex marriage a criminal act that is punishable will have far reaching effects not only in economic terms but also in the perception of Africa on a global scale.
Please let me know your thoughts on the matter @AnnekeScheepers on twitter