Progress halted on same-sex bill in Nigeria
Thursday, 29 March 2007
by Davis Mac-Iyalla
For immediate release
Many people have been asking whether the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2006 which was debated on 22 March by the Nigerian House of Representatives is likely to be lost if the Nigerian election takes place soon.
The Nigerian Federal elections are scheduled to be held on 21 April and the ceremonial opening of the new session of Parliament on May 29, 2007, which the constitution recognizes as the hand over date to a new government. Allafrica.com reported on Sunday, 25 March 2007 that the House of Representatives will be prorogued on Wednesday, 28 March but this has not been confirmed by other sources. If the election takes place as timetabled, the present House of Representatives will be officially dissolved in May and the handover to the new House will take place.
The present sitting of the House has finished, and they asked the panel of Human Rights which continues to meet, to go and review the bill again. It is difficult to say categorically that the current House has been totally suspended because a lot of manoeuvring is taking place ahead of the election. It may be reasonably safe to assume the bill has been abandoned for now.
What we are hearing from CAN members in Anglican congregations in Nigeria is that the church leaders have been feeling big pressure on them and some are very angry because they expected the bill to be voted on prior to the end of this session. There are also rumours that money has exchanged hands, American money, and yet it has not proved easy for the Anglican Church leaders to push the bill through the House of Representatives. Corruption remains widespread at every level of Nigerian society.
It is also theoretically possible for the next government to reintroduce the bill. This would be unlikely to happen in the first term when they would be trying to satisfy many different expectations. It remains a possibility that the bill could be reintroduced in the next government’s second term.
Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria, said today (29 March):
“Because of the continuing uncertainty, Changing Attitude Nigeria will not celebrate the defeat of the bill publicly until after May 29. We are quietly confident and feeling more happy, but there is still the potential for lobbying in favour of the bill to take place by the Church of Nigeria and for the Government to spring a surprise. However, if the Church was confident about the success of the bill, we think they would be issuing a confident public statement now, which they are not.”
Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria
Tel. Mobile: +2348025866133
Revd Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude England
Tel. Office: 01380 724908
Mobile: 07770 844302