Accepted paper:

The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act of Nigeria and its Derogation from International Human Rights Standards On Freedom of Association

Authors:

Okechukwu Effoduh (Osgoode Hall Law School )

Paper short abstract:

In probing the limitations to the right to Freedom of Association (FOA) under International Human Rights Law, this paper questions the justification of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act as an exception to the FOA enjoyed by Nigerians and other Africans affected by similar laws.

Paper long abstract:

On the 7th of January 2014, the President of Nigeria signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA) into law; both Houses of the National Assembly considered the law for over seven years. In addition to criminalizing same sex marriages and civil unions with fourteen years' imprisonment, the Act states that anyone who 'supports the registration, operation and sustenance of gay clubs, societies, organizations, processions or meetings in Nigeria' is liable on conviction to ten years' imprisonment. This section has forced many human rights NGOs and groups to curtail their activities. The law also has led to a crackdown on LGBTI groups and individuals who, even before the Act was passed, faced excessive incidences of human rights abuses. Freedom of association (FOA) is recognized as a fundamental human right under International Human Rights Law (IHRL) and has been described as a requisite pillar for democracy. FOA can be limited only for a stated number of reasons. This paper analyzes the implications of the SSMPA on the right to FOA. It examines if and how the SSMPA derogates from the IHRL on FOA. In probing the limitations to the rights to FOA under IHRL, this paper also explores the concept of public morality. Specifically, the paper explores whether the Nigerian government's justification for the SSMPA as 'protecting public morality' is legitimate under IHRL.

panel P118
LGBTI Activism in Lusophone Africa and beyond: organization and dynamics in urban contexts