President Goodluck Jonathan’s signing of the anti-gay law has drawn mixed reactions

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A respected journalist and human rights activist, Richard Akinnola, has lashed out at the diaspora academics for calling on Western countries to impose travel sanctions on Nigerian government officials over Nigeria’s decision to outlaw gay relationship and same sex marriages.

President Goodluck Jonathan, last week, gave his assent to the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill, effectively making anyone convicted for getting involved in gay relationship or entering into a same-sex marriage contract or union face up to 14 years in prison.

While majority of Nigerians at home commended the president over the law; some, particularly those living abroad, criticized Mr. Jonathan for enacting a law that tramples on an individual’s freedom of association.

In a reaction to the new law, some Nigerian academics in the diaspora, alongside some of supporters at home, called on Western nations to impose diplomatic sanctions on the Nigerian government.

“Specifically, the United States and the United Kingdom should, forthwith, impose diplomatic sanctions (e.g., denial of visas) on all Nigerian functionaries, including journalists, the clergy, and policymakers associated with the passing of the law,” they stated in their letter.

Reacting to their letter, Mr. Akinnola called on them and other pro-gay activists to also advocate that sleeping with animals is a fundamental human right.

“I read with consternation, the letter of some of our diaspora academics, some of whom l personally know and have tremendous respect for, calling for travel sanctions on Nigerian government officials and others by Western countries,” Mr. Akinnola said.

“According to them, the anti-gay law was retrogressive and against Fundamental Human Rights.

“With due respect to their right to opinion, l seriously disagree. That would be stretching human rights to a preposterous level. I guess their being based abroad had made them “oyinbolised”.

“For instance, it’s a criminal offence for a man or woman to sleep with an animal. Why can’t they make similar position that it is the fundamental right of anybody to sleep with who he/she chooses to sleep with, including animals?

“After all, they can argue that some people were born with such instincts. We should not allow some odious western freedom crawl into our ways of life. I know, for example, that there is a particular day in London where some warped people, male and female, go naked publicly. They converge somewhere like a carnival, totally naked. If such society permits that, do we say Nigerians also have the fundamental human rights to go naked?”

Mr. Akinnola further stated that advocating for gay rights in a country like Nigeria would be stretching human rights to the limit.

“Why are the western countries not shouting over the stoning and beheading of adulterers in Islamic countries, some of which countries they still do business with?” he questioned.

“By the special grace of God, l say with all humility that l was one of the pioneers of organized Human Rights movements in this country almost three decades ago and l think it would be quite preposterous to stretch human rights to a ridiculous level without taking into consideration the cultural realities of your society.

“Otherwise, we can as well argue that suicide is the fundamental right of everybody. After all, it’s his/her own life. But we all know that attempted suicide is a criminal offence. To the advocates of pro-gay as fundamental right, they should also advocate that sleeping with animals is also a fundamental rights or a man can marry his younger sister, after all, it’s their fundamental right to marry who so they choose,” he added.

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