The Director of Muslim Rights Concern in Nigeria, Prof Ishaq Akintola, has said Nigeria will not bow to the pressure of practising same sex marriage despite threats of impending sanctions from the United States of America.
He said Nigeria has its own cultural and religious beliefs and cannot allow America to adulterate its people through its globalisation policies.
Akintola told SaharaReporters on Wednesday while reacting to the US President Joe Biden’s threat to sanction Nigeria and other countries found guilty of human rights abuses of LGBTQI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer and intersex) persons.
Biden in the memo warned, “When foreign governments move to restrict the rights of LGBTQI+ persons or fail to enforce legal protections in place, thereby contributing to a climate of intolerance, agencies engaged abroad shall consider appropriate responses, including using the full range of diplomatic and assistance tools and, as appropriate, financial sanctions, visa restrictions, and other actions.
“All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are or whom they love,” said the memorandum, building on a 2011 directive issued when Biden was serving as vice president.
“The United States belongs at the forefront of this struggle – speaking out and standing strong for our most dearly held values.”
In his response, Akintola said, “My opinion is that Joe Biden has just taken his first major step on what concerns his country. I should state here that America cannot continue to force its own globalisation policies on Nigeria.
“We won’t accept or practise that kind of law. It’s not possible. We did not vote our elected representatives to make that kind of law. We didn’t vote our National Assembly members to bastardise our culture and violate our beliefs.”
When reminded of the huge financial, economic and security aids Nigeria might lose if it does not dance to America’s tune in terms of same-sex law, Akinola insisted that the country would not succumb to threats.
“Let him carry out his sanctions. Let him withdraw his financial aid and what have you. It’s not worth it. Whatever Joe Biden and the American government want to do, let them do it. Let them even invade Nigeria because of it, we don’t want blood money and we don’t want dirty money from America. Let them pocket their dirty dollars if that’s the way the game is played.”
Nigeria’s anti-gay laws have been increasingly criticised by global rights groups, which have categorised the country as overtly homophobic.
Despite international pressure, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan signed the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act in January 2014, prescribing between 10 to 14 years in prison for cohabitation between same-sex sexual partners, public show of same-sex relationship, registration, operation or participation in gay clubs, societies and organisation, amongst others.
As a predominantly conservative country, it is unlikely that Nigeria would revisit its anti-gay marriage law to strengthen bilateral relations with the United States.