A Nigerian government official proclaimed this week that Nigeria will continue to follow its own lead on gay rights following an announcement by President Obama that the U.S. will throw its diplomatic and financial aid behind the cause of promoting tolerance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons worldwide.
“…Between Europe, America and Africa there is a huge culture gap. Some of the things that are considered fundamental rights abroad also can be very offensive to African culture and tradition and to the way we live our lives here,” Nigerian Minister of Information, Labaran Maku said according to This Day.
The U.S. and Nigeria have enjoyed fairly calm relations over the years, most recently collaborating over anti-terrorism tactics in efforts to stabilize Nigeria’s growing problem of insurgents in the North of the country. However, with Wednesday’s declaration of sweeping changes coming to U.S. foreign policy, that relationship may be headed toward a standoff.
Under the plan outlined by Obama, U.S. agencies operating abroad will now be tasked with combating criminalization of LGBT status or conduct, protecting vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers, providing assistance to maintain human rights and guaranteeing swift and meaningful U.S. responses to human rights abuses of LGBT persons abroad. While this plan may go over more smoothly in nations like Malawi, who have already given a second thought to gay policies due to foreign pressure, Nigeria has made clear its strong consensus against homosexuality as the country considers a law aimed at criminalizing gay marriage.
According to Maku, whether the controversial anti-gay law is passed or defeated, the decision will be made by Nigerians, not swayed by foreign influence.
“The truth of the matter is our democracy will be guarded by Nigeria's interest and values. And if eventually the law becomes law, we will live with it but it is not yet law. And we will take comments by our foreign partners and friends as legitimate, but I also know that it is within the legitimate rights of Nigeria as an independent nation and our legislature to legislate and discuss any matter in the world that comes before them that is also in tune with the welfare of the people of Nigeria,” he told the paper.
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