We, the undersigned human rights defenders, groups, individuals and civil society organizations
hereby demand that the recent passage of the ‘Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill and
other Related Matters’ by the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria be
rescinded. The provisions of the propose bill infringe upon the fundamental rights provisions of
On the 30th May 2013, the Nigeria House of Representatives passed the bill titled “Same Sex
Marriage Prohibition Bill’’. The Bill prohibits marriage between persons of same sex, criminalize
organizations and persons who directly or indirectly aid or abate such a union. This Bill will
deprive Nigerians of their fundamental human rights as guaranteed in Chapter IV of the 1999
Constitution. This includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, right to life, right to
privacy and security of the person, right to private and family life, right to freedom from
discrimination, right to freedom of expression and press, right to fair hearing, right to dignity of
the human person and right to personal liberty.
This draconian legislation contravenes the provision of the constitution of the Federal Republic
of Nigeria, which protects fundamental human rights of individual with no reference to their
sexuality, their choice of spouses, private life, sex, creed or religion.
We are concerned that the Same Sex Marriage prohibition bill defines marriage not as an act
between a man and a woman, but includes any two people of the same sex living together. This
renders all Nigerian of the same sex living together as potential target of this law.
Many people share housing for economic reasons. Two roommates of the same sex
could be accused by anybody with whom they have a personal or public dispute of “living
together as husband and wife” and be prosecuted under this law.
Their relatives, friends or visitors could be accused of indirectly supporting in private a
same sex amorous relationship just by visiting them.
In a tactile society like Nigeria where people of same sex frequently and freely hold each other’s
hands, wrap their arms around each other’s waist, can be seen in warm embrace, such
innocuous gesture is likely to be misconstrued, invested with sexual meaning and misused for
malicious purpose. With the passage of this bill we are likely to see increased rate of
harassment, witch-hunt and vindictive accusations which will impact on every Nigerian.
In the hands of unscrupulous politicians and aspirants, the legislation could be used as a
powerful tool to undermine and discredit opponents thus subjecting prospective candidates to
political blackmail or defamation of character and integrity.
Under the proposed legislation, it will be an offense to advocate against the law without being
found guilty of indirectly supporting same sex marriage or relationships. This would be an
inherent contradiction for a democratic system.
Under this legislation lawyers will be unable to offer legal representation. In fact such
lawyers would be criminalized for representation and defense of perceived same sex related
The Bill passed by House of Representatives defined marriage to be a legal union between
persons of opposite sex in accordance with the marriage act, Islamic law or customary law. We
believe that by virtue of the Constitution, powers enabling the National House of Assembly to
make laws over matters that are under the exclusive lists. Marriage by law is under the residuary
list, which is the exclusive prerogative of each state of the Federation.
We are concerned that the passage of this bill would further encourage security agents such as
the police to arbitrarily accuse, harass and arrest citizens on spurious grounds creating fear,
suspicion and anxiety among the populace.
We are further concerned that before the passage of the bill, the principle of fair hearing was not
put into consideration. The Bill contravenes the spirit of the 1999 constitution Chapter II section
17 (1), (2) (a-c) which states that social order is founded on ideals of freedom and equality and
that every citizen shall have equal rights, obligations and opportunities before the law and shall
uphold the sanctity of every person and enhance human dignity and ensure that all
governmental actions shall be humane.
Democracy is about the rule of law, and as a secular state the evocation of religion and morality
to police citizens’ private lives does not reconcile with democratic principles. Democracy gives
all citizens freedom of expression, association and equality before the law. The passage of the
Bill not only directly conflicts with and violates the principles of democracy; it also returns
Nigeria to the autocracy of the military era.
In the light of the above concerns, we call on the Senate, the House of Representatives and the
Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to;
1. To immediately consult with the National Human Rights Commission, Civil Society
Organizations and other stakeholders on the human rights implications of this Bill;
2. To immediately withdraw the Bill and uphold the mandate as available in Chapter IV of
the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which stipulates the protection
and promotion of fundamental human rights of all citizens.
STATEMENT SIGNED BY:
AL- Centre for Human Development
Alliance for Africa and Nigeria Feminist forum
Changing Attitude Nigeria
Coalition for the Defence of Sexual Rights
International Centre for Advocacy on Rights to Health
International Centre for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights
Improved Youth Health Initiative
Legal Defence and Assistance Project
The Initiative for Equal Rights
The Initiative for Improved Male Health
Women’s Health and Equal Rights Initiative
Akoro Joseph Sewedo
Bibi Bakare Yusuf
Davis Mac- Iyalla
Emmanuella D. David-ette
Ifeanyi Kelly Orazulike
Iyayi Osazeme Odgie Oyegun
Yemi Candide Johnson