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Wednesday, 17 July 2013
Nigeria to defend ban on same-sex marriage in letter to UN- Maku
Nigeria will write to the UN in October.
The Federal Government will submit a formal report on its stand on same-sex marriage to the United Nations in October, the Information Minister, Labaran Maku, has said.
Mr. Maku, while briefing journalists after the weekly meeting of the Executive Council of the Federation (FEC), chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan, said a committee was set up to work on the report.
The committee is led by the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke.
This, he said, followed FEC’s approval for Nigeria to submit its Second Cycle Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Report to the United Nation’s Human Right Council.
Mr. Maku explained that every country that is a signatory presents a report every four years stating the profile of the human right situation and what government and communities are doing to promote the enforcement of universal human rights across the world.
Nigeria’s first report to the United Nations Human Rights Council was submitted in 2009 and the second phase is already due.
Nigerian Lawmakers had in May this year passed the anti-gay bill, calling for a 14-year jail sentence for same-sex marriages as well as witnesses to the marriage. The bill is now awaiting presidential assent.
The information minister said a committee had earlier been set up to work on a draft report to the United Nations Human Rights Council. He said the draft report was “presented to the council today and council deliberated extensively on the report”.
He said 32 issues had been raised from the report Nigeria submitted to the UN in 2009; and Nigeria had so far dealt with 30 of them. He said Nigeria has been able to succeed in the area of press freedom and women representation amongst others.
However the issue of same-sex marriage is one of two areas Nigeria defers from mainly Western countries. The other issue is that of the death penalty.
He said in relation to same sex marriage, there were fundamental differences “within our country and so we are trying to look into it and see what really position Nigeria will take. But definitely, the problem with same sex marriage as at now is that both sections of Nigerian society, traditional society, Muslim community, Christian community that virtually make up nearly 100 percent of the Nigerian population are still opposed to the idea of same sex marriage. And in nations, it is not easy for you to enforce a value that is strange to your own society.”
“We believe that Nigeria should be able to work on its own position particularly that reflects both segments of the Nigerian society. So we have set up a special council committee to again look into these issues so that we can come up with a final report, which will then be forwarded to the United Nations Human Rights Council,” he said.
On the death penalty, he noted that substantial progress had been made, but there were issues within “our statutes that we need to resolve and it is not only Nigeria, but even the United States and several other countries have not yet abolished death penalty. It is something to be pursued and it is also something that we need time, change in attitude, change in perceptions, and change in laws for these to become reality”.
Mr. Maku said there were fundamental differences of opinion on the death penalty and there was no national consensus.
The FEC also discussed constituency projects. Mr. Maku said the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, reminded the Council that N50 billion has been set aside in a separate account; and urged MDAs handling the implementation and execution of constituency projects to get ready for procurement. This, Mr. Maku said, is to ensure that there is proper monitoring of these projects.