July 20, 2013 – “Nigeria Under Pressure To Sign Gay Rights Bill Into Law” – Foreign Affairs Minister, Olugbenga Ashiru
The Federal Government has said it is under pressure from the international community to sign the Gay Rights Bill into law in Nigeria.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, stated this in Abuja on Friday at an interactive session with the diplomatic corps, even as he accused the international community of hypocrisy.
He insisted that Nigeria would not sign the Gay Rights bill or abolish the death penalty without reviewing the constitution.
The minister said that Nigeria does not impose its culture on other countries and as such it was wrong for anyone to attempt to impose a foreign culture on the nation. He said, “This thing must be understood because we have been under pressure about this issue of Gay Rights. It is not part of our own culture, you need to understand that. It needs to evolve. Let us get to that stage of understanding that two men can marry, then we will get to the bridge and cross it. But please let foreign diplomats educate their various governments that you cannot come overnight and impose values that are not part of our tradition on us. Don’t impose it on us that we must allow it in our constitution. If we are talking about democracy, democracy is about free choice, free association you don’t force values on others.
“For those who have Gay Rights, even when I look at the population of those countries, those opposing are high in number. In some countries, the churches are against it, why put pressure on Nigeria and other African countries that we must put it (in our laws). Respect for human rights of a minute minority cannot be at the expense of the larger societal values, well-being and orientation of the people. Even laws are rooted in culture which must be upheld for the good of the society. I therefore appeal to the international community to show a greater understanding of the culture and traditions of our people.
“We don’t tell other countries how to live their lives. We don’t impose values on any country. Other countries too should not come and impose their own values on us. We don’t oppose any country that has put in its constitution the Gay Rights to allow two men or two women to marry themselves. But for Nigeria and a number of other African countries; it is not part of our culture yet.’’
He said it was hypocrisy for the United States to be championing Gay Rights and while criminalising polygamy which is part of Africa’s culture and tradition.
“At times you see hypocrisy in some of these things. I must be frank. If we talk about human rights, how do we apply them? It seems they are being applied to favour some certain groups and not of wider application. There is hypocrisy in this issue of Gay Rights and polygamy,” he added.
[Source: Saturday Punch]