Implications Of The Same –Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, 2013 On Human Rights And HIV Prevention Services In Nigeria: An Info-Graph Presentation

On the 7th of January 2014, the Nigeria President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan signed the same sex marriage law after the approval of the Federal House of Representative and Senate.

Since the signing of the law, the socio-political climate has become a lot more hostile towards same-sex loving people. Many LGBT people live in a constant state of fear following highly negative public sentiments and statements and the brutality of both state and non-state actors, such as the police, the judiciary, and communities. From January to June, TIERs and other organisations have documented over 45 human rights violations in different parts of Nigeria involving over 40 people. These cases demonstrate the increased risk and vulnerability of LGBT or perceived LGBT persons. For them, the fear of persecutions, police brutality and mob attacks are a daily reality.

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Organisations working with sexual minorities came together to create info-graphs of the human rights violations they have documented in five states. The info-graphs, showing the impact of the law on HIV prevention services for men who have sex with men (MSM), indicated that a most of the five organisations recorded a reduction in service provision in the aftermath of the passage of the law.

For fear of reprisal, many LGBT persons have gone underground rather than coming forward to access HIV prevention and intervention services. From a survey, access to services for and by MSM dropped by an average of 36% across the five states (Lagos – 40%; Rivers State- 30%; Cross Rivers State – 10%; Abuja – 30% and Kano – 70%)

This has massive implications in the government’s effort to stem the HIV pandemic sweeping the country. Lest we forget, Nigeria has the second highest rate of HIV/AIDS prevalence on the continent.

According to the 2010, Integrated Biological and Behavioural Surveillance survey (IBBSS, 2010), the HIV prevalence amongst MSM is 17.2% higher than in any other key populations.

TIERs and other sexual health and human rights organisations in Nigeria will continue to highlight the human and health rights impact of the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, 2013 (SSMPA) using evidenced based advocacy for programme intervention and policy change for same – sex loving persons.