The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) — in cooperation with Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa, the Coalition for the Defense of Sexual Rights in Nigeria, and IHEU members, Humanist Association for Leadership, Equity and Accountability (in Uganda) and Humanist Association for Peace and Social Tolerance Advancement (in Nigeria) — has called out Uganda and Nigeria for failing to protect the LGBTI rights and lives of their citizens.
The IHEU’s director of advocacy, Elizabeth O’Casey, delivered the statement during the 33rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, in Geneva.
In it, she highlighted the issue of hate speech against LGBTI persons in Uganda and Nigeria, the role of state officials in perpetuating that hate, as well as the key part played by anti-choice evangelical preachers from the USA in inciting anti-LGBTI hate and discrimination, as well as in the push for an expansion in colonial-era laws and attitudes on sexual rights.
A number of reports have detailed the extent to which activism promoting hate speech and falsehoods directed at LGBTI people is carried out by some US evangelical groups in African countries.
The World Congress of Families and the Abiding Truths Ministries, for example, have been active in both countries – they are listed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center in the USA. Also active is Peter LaBarabera, previously arrested for distributing hate materials in Canada.
Another group, Family Watch International, headed by Sharon Slater, has members and supporters from over 170 countries. In 2011, Slater was the keynote speaker at a meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association, where she expressed her views on homosexuality, telling delegates that they would no longer have religious freedom and homosexuals would prey on their children if they supported “fictitious sexual rights.” Uganda’s ethics minister, made the same equivalence between paedophilia and homosexuality; he said, “If they were doing it in their own rooms we wouldn’t mind, but when they go for children, that’s not fair. They are beasts of the forest.”
O’Casey finished her statement by calling on the Council to condemn the Nigerian Ambassador’s previously stated attitude to LGBTI people in his country.
Her statement follows below, in full:
International Humanist and Ethical Union
UN Human Rights Council, 33rd Session (13th – 30th September 2016)
General Debate, Item 4
This statement is supported by the Humanist Association for Leadership, Equity and Accountability in Uganda, Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa, and the Humanist Association for Peace and Social Tolerance Advancement, Nigeria.
A couple of weeks ago in Uganda, an 8-year old girl was arrested for lesbianism; a crime punishable by imprisonment in the country. Since 2014 levels in prejudice, violence and discrimination against the gay community have increased; 264 “verified cases of human rights abuses against LGBTI Ugandans” were recorded between May 2014 and December 2015. Cases of corrective rape have also been reported.
In Nigeria, President Buhari has re-assumed his ‘War Against Indiscipline’, which includes homosexuality. “Carnal knowledge against the order of nature” is already punishable by 14 years in prison, and in 12 northern states, homosexual acts are punishable by imprisonment, caning, or death.
Research has pointed to the key role of anti-choice American Christian preachers in inciting anti-LGBTI hate and discrimination, and expansion in colonial-era laws on sexual rights. The World Congress of Families and the Abiding Truths Ministries, listed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center (USA) have been active in both countries. The founder of the latter, Pastor Scott Lively — who is on trial for anti-gay persecution in Uganda — has linked homosexuality with paedophilia. This hate speech has been echoed by Uganda’s Ethics minister, who also reportedly called his gay citizens “beasts of the forest”
We call on Uganda and Nigeria to cease the abuse of LGBTI rights; to ensure that discrimination and violence against LGBTI people is prevented and punished when it occurs, and insist that hate speech laws are implemented universally and impartially.
Last June in this room, Nigerian Ambassador Emuze, said his country “rejects unreservedly” lesbian and gay attitudes amongst its citizens and talked of an “abhorrence of LGBT rights.” I’d like to close by stating officially the IHEU’s (a NGO representing over 100 organisations across more than 40 countries) “abhorrence” of the ambassador’s words; and call directly on other members of the Council to do the same.