In Nigeria, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LBTI) people face harassment, violence, torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment at the hands of both private and state actors. Consensual same-sex acts are criminalised under the Criminal Code that is actively enforced by the authorities. Section 214 criminalises “carnal knowledge” against the order of nature with a penalty of fourteen years imprisonment. It applies to sexual intercourse between men.
The Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act criminalises all forms of same-sex unions and same-sex marriage throughout the country – “A person who enters into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union liable for 14 years’ imprisonment”. The law forbids any cohabitation between same-sex sexual partners and bans any “public show of same-sex amorous relationship.”
There is no legal recognition for transgender and intersex people in Nigeria. Furthermore, the Penal Code of Northern Nigeria criminalises gender non-conforming identity and expression.
Nigeria’s structural environment is not safe for LBTI persons. In December 2019, 47 men were put on trial for public displays of affection with members of the same sex, an offence that carries a 10-year jail term under the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition law, enacted in 2014. A Sharia (Islamic law) court in Kano in January 2019 fined 11 women charged under the state’s Immoral Acts law for allegedly planning a same-sex wedding. The victims were arrested in December 2018 by local religious police, known as Hisbah.
The last submitted State party report was in 2006 and contained no information on LBTI constituencies.
The CEDAW Committee provided a SOGIESC-specific recommendation to Nigeria at the 77th Session. The Committee stated that it has grave concern at the reports of intersecting discrimination and violence against women and girls caused by homophobia, and recommended that Nigeria take measures to address this prejudice and to protect affected women and girls. The List of Issues did not have any LBTI-inclusive questions.
Other general recommendations by the Committee that can apply to LBTI people include:
(a) to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of alleged sexual exploitation, including so-called â€œtransactional sex”, in camps for internally displaced persons in Maiduguri and other places;
(b) to protect women and girls who are disproportionately affected by conflicts, from gender-based violence;
(c) to strengthen the collection of statistical data on all forms of violence against women, including domestic violence, disaggregated by age, type of offence and relationship between the victim and the perpetrator;
(d) to support victims of trafficking by providing them with access to shelters, legal, medical and psychosocial assistance, and adequate income-generating opportunities.