LGBT Activist Confronts President Jonathan During Washington Visit

PicturesA gay Nigerian activist who sought asylum in the United States confronted President Goodluck Jonathan over the country’s recently passed anti-LGBT law at a dinner in the president’s honor hosted by business groups in Washington on Wednesday.

Michael Ighodaro left Nigeria in 2012 after his ribs and hand were broken in an attack in the capital of Abuja and is now a fellow at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in New York. He approached Jonathan during a $200-per-plate dinner hosted by the Corporate Council on Africa and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, held on the sidelines of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit organized by the White House this week.

Ighodaro challenged the president about the Anti-Same-Sex Marriage Act, signed into law in January, which also criminalizes advocating LGBT rights and displays of affection between people of the same-sex. Since its passage, there have been several reports of mob attacks targeting people alleged to be homosexual.

Ighodaro told BuzzFeed that Jonathan replied, “The situation of homosexuals in Nigeria is delicate, but during this week the topic has come up a lot and it is something we will continue to look into, especially the attacks. If you think the law is unconstitutional you have the right to go to court and fight [to strike] it down,” which Ighodaro interpreted as a reference to similar Ugandan legislation struck down by the country’s Constitutional Court on Friday.

Jonathan’s speech to the dinner was devoted almost entirely to economic issues, but he seemed to make a vague reference to the anti-LGBT law at the very end of his remarks, as well as to the issue that has dominated U.S. coverage of Nigeria in recent months — the abduction of more than 300 school girls by Islamist militants in the northeastern part of the country. Jonathan said:

‘I cannot end my remarks without making reference to two issues that my ambassador here is spending much of his time explaining to you…. about the issue of sexuality in the country. Let me reassure you that, well, of course we have challenges. The issue of terror [is] very, very negative for us, come to torment so many countries, and … we are receiving our fair share of terror in the local [group] called Boko Haram, that’s recently has been taking some school girls. But we are working very hard to bring it under control, and surely we’ll bring it under control.’

The president then closed his speech and was presented with a gift by leaders of the Corporate Council on Africa and the Chamber of Commerce before leaving the hall.

12 thoughts on “LGBT Activist Confronts President Jonathan During Washington Visit

  1. Well honestly in my opinion the president hasn’t erred! The issue is not the president, rather the problem is the people. Poll results showed that almost 90percent of Nigerians supported this obnoxious law, in school that would be an A+
    So it was only natural for him to tow the line of Nigerians.
    Where I fault the law at this point is that it did not make a demarcation between gay marriage and being gay. America is the centre of justice and all, but not all American states recognize gay marriage. So this Nigerian law should have outlawed gay marriage (which was already outlawed as the Marriage act of 1978 as amended already stipulated that marriage was between a man and a woman “excluding all others”) without trampling on the rights of gay men. Gay rights are human rights, so you can say “No we won’t recognize gay marriages at this point”, the law should not have outlawed homosexual activity. That was wrong!!!

    • Ur comment sums it all up. I know of places that place a ban on gay “marriage”, but if there are countries/states that have a law against “being” gay,then I don’t know about it (I wonder what percentage of gay nigerians from our generation they thought were hoping to get married in Nigeria anyway). If “they” are really “looking into” the attacks,as GEJ claims, then there should be a law against extrajudicial “punishment” of gay people.

      • You dey mind GEJ? That weak-minded president that only knows about to spin spiels that are transparent for the bunkum they really are. I remember his 2011 presidential campaign and the fresh air he promised, and I wonder how that air turned so sour and stiflingly hot for someone like me.

  2. Well, he has said we can go to court to contest it. But that time is not now,my people. The straw is still piling on the camel’s back.
    Oh, anytime Jonathan says “let me assure/reassure you” anything he says after will be a humongous lie. For your sanity’s sake, do not believe

  3. Pingback: Nigerian LGBT Reportedly Awaiting Court’s Decision On Anti Gay Law Repeal | kitodiaries

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