Advocacy for LGBT in Nigeria

The Love Matters Naija team have scored an advocacy success after meeting with the UN Special Rapporteur for Housing when she visited Nigeria late last year. The findings of a report they helped prepare about the discrimination Nigeria’s LGBT community faces when it comes to access to housing were included in Leilani Farha’s final report. The Special Rapporteur dedicated an entire section to making the UN and Nigeria’s government aware of the specific difficulties the LGBT community has to deal with.

Love Matters Naija is currently implementing the AmplifyChange funded Rights, evidence action -amplifying youth voices (REA) programme. REA works to influence attitudes, social norms and policies in favour of the SRHR of young people, including LGBT youth. The programme is a collaboration between RNW Media and CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality and also works with local partner organisations. In Nigeria, youth-led LGBT rights organisation Equality Triangle Initiative (ETI) worked with the LM Naija team to prepare a report highlighting the various issues which threaten the right to housing for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Nigerians.

Evictions and rejection
The report refers to the national laws which criminalise same sex relationships and the Sharia Law which makes homosexuality punishable by death in some provinces, as well as the discriminatory attitudes amongst the broader public which can result in LGBT people being evicted from their homes because of their sexual orientation. It quotes a recent survey which showed that only 30% of respondents said they would accept a family member if they are homosexual. This highlights the challenge facing many young LGBT people who may be thrown out of home when it’s revealed that they are homosexual.

Violent abuse
Quoted in the report is Bayo*, a final year university student who was forced to leave his house in July 2019 because he was perceived as being gay. After receiving a visit from a male friend, his neighbours attacked him because of his assumed sexuality. He has since fled his home and is staying with a friend.

Another chilling example in the report of the dangers faced by the LGBT community in Nigeria is the story of a young woman who reports that she and her partner were:

“raped by 6 men because we are lesbians and the landlord organised the boys to rape us because he find us kissing and knew we were couple living together”.

The report also points out that it is extremely difficult for LGBT persons to lodge formal complaints about such attacks because of the criminalisation of same sex relationships. In fact, it says, Nigerian police often take advantage of such laws to extort and blackmail victims of human rights violations.

Legal protections needed
In closing, the report offers a number of recommendations including the adoption of a comprehensive anti-discrimination law that includes protections of the right to housing for all Nigerians. Such a law would prohibit landlords from questioning tenants about their sexuality and gender as well as uphold the right to privacy of individuals – including not entering people’s homes without a warrant.

A member of the Love Matters Naija team presented the report personally to Leilani Farha and when she presented her conclusions to the UN and the Nigerian government she included many of the points and recommendations made by the report. You can download a pdf of the full report here Nigeria visit report.

Following on from this successful advocacy action, the full REA consortium which includes Nigerian NGOs EVA and INCRESE as well as CHOICE, LM Naija and ETI composed a joint statement urging the urgent repeal of all legislation that denies the rights of sexual and gender minorities. This statement was read at the 43rd Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva by Advocacy Coordinator for Choice Benjamin Nolan.

You can downlod a copy of the full statement Housing Nigeria Statement or click here to watch Ben delivering it at the HRC.

The HRC session was suspended later in March due to the Coronavirus

*Not his real name