July 22, 2015 at 3:53 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Kerry raises LGBT rights with Nigerian president

Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria, gay news, Washington Blade

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speaks at the U.S. Institute of Peace on July 22, 2015. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A State Department spokesperson on Wednesday said Secretary of State John Kerry raised Nigeria’s LGBT rights record during his meeting with the country’s president earlier this week.

John Kirby told the Washington Blade during his daily press briefing that Kerry raised Nigeria’s Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act with President Muhammadu Buhari and other members of his delegation on Tuesday during a luncheon at the State Department.

“We made clear then as we have made clear publicly our concerns about this legislation, which criminalizes in particular homosexuality,” said Kirby. “We’ve been very clear that human rights are gay rights and gay rights are human rights. And again we’ll continue to raise this issue moving forward.”

Buhari’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, in January 2014 signed the draconian law that, among other things, punishes those who enter into a same-sex marriage with up to 14 years in prison and bans membership in an LGBT advocacy group.

Homosexuality remains punishable by death in areas of Nigeria that are under Shari’a law. Religious forces known as the Hisbah in January arrested a dozen people who were reportedly attending a same-sex wedding outside the city of Kano.

Buhari on Wednesday did not discuss his country’s LGBT rights record during a speech he gave at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington. The Blade submitted a written question about the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act before the event, but Buhari was not asked it during a discussion that Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson moderated.

“The future of Nigeria, indeed the future of Africa, lies in democratic governance,” said Buhari. “Democracy can help us build fair, just and inclusive societies.”

Buhari in March defeated Jonathan in the country’s presidential election amid concerns over terrorism related to Boko Haram, corruption and a stagnant economy.

Buhari on Monday met with President Obama and Vice President Biden at the White House.

The U.S. gave Nigeria $703 million in aid in 2014, compared to $669.8 million in 2013 and $647 million in 2012. The country during the 2015 fiscal year requested $720.9 million in foreign aid from Washington.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

  • “ Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought. ”
    ― Pope John Paul II

    “The future of Nigeria, indeed the future of Africa, lies in democratic governance,” “Democracy can help us build fair, just and inclusive societies.” -Mohamed Buhari.

    It is their words, but out sharply against them. Both the Church and Country are integral part of my life. Away from them was like exile but what of when life in them is bondage that does not respect my reality, hence i can’t freely do what “I ought” hence no fairness, justice and inclusion.

  • I don’t understand why the Obama administration had stopped giving aid to Uganda which I’m glad yet continues to give aid to Nigeria which has its own abusive homophobic laws. There’s simply no line of consistency to how the Obama administration approaches this and I’d like to know what their reasoning is for supporting a country they at the same time say they believe is abhorrent in their laws.

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