The Young Humanistas Network in Nigeria has described the remarks of Ojo Madueke, Nigeria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, denying the existence of a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in the country as being “economical with the truth”.

Addressing the United Nations Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights in Geneva last week, Mr. Madueke said: “We have no record of any group of Nigerians who have come together under the umbrella of lesbian, gay and transgender group, let alone to start talking of their rights.

“During our National Consultative Forum, we went out of our way to look for the Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Group but we could not come across Nigerians with such sexuality.

“If they are an amorphous group, then the question of violence against them does not arise let alone negotiating special rights for them,” he said.

In a statement issued today Young Humanistas Network said that they were “particularly miffed” by the remarks made during the Minister’s UNUPR address on February 9.

“Ojo Madueke is economical with the truth in his attempts to cover the track of gross human rights violations being perpetrated by the government of Nigeria as he seems to have forgotten that the National Assembly backed by some of the executive council members are currently preparing to enact a law criminalising homosexual activities,” the statement said.

And the group questioned: “Why enact a law that has no subject?”

As far back as 2003, Dare Odumade of the Alliance Rights Nigeria, and later an Ashoka Fellow, organised a Nigeria National Homosexual Conference which was well attended by over one hundred Nigerians, Yemi Ademowo Johnson, spokesperson and national coordinator for Young Humanistas Network, pointed out.

He also said that the threats of arrest of Rev. Jide Macaulay, a gay pastor, and the continued disruption of activities at his church in Lagos, “are some of the indicators of the gross violations and torture of the LGBT community in Nigeria”.

Rev. Macaulay fled Nigeria last year for his safety and now lives in the UK.

“There is nowhere in the world where organising into a group serves as a precursor to full enjoyment of human rights,” Mr. Johnson said.

“Rather it is the individual rights that coagulate to group rights. But in a situation where individual rights are threatened, then the possibility of even registering a group of these threatened individuals is zero.”

Young Humanistas Network discussed the issue of the statement by Mr. Madueke at a special meeting last week.

The group resolved as follows:

  • “That the Minister should tender an unreserved apology to the LGBT individuals in Nigeria for his unguarded and denigrating statements which have maligned their personality and placed them on the prioritised list of the endangered Nigerians, most especially the statement which denied the existence of any Nigerian with LGBT sexuality.”

  • “The National Assembly must forthwith cease further debate on the Homosexuality Prohibition Bill, pending the provision of amiable and comfortable environment for LGBT individuals and groups to attend the public presentation on the bill.”

  • “The Nigerian Government, being a party to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and which its elements are found in the Nigerian 1999 Constitution, must strive to live up to his responsibility of protecting the fundamental rights of everyone, regardless of their sexuality.”

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