15 January 2014

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General, Fearing Same-Sex Marriage Ban May Fuel Prejudice, Violence

in Nigeria, ‘Strongly Hopes’ for Review of New Law’s Constitutionality

The following statement was issued today by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

The Secretary-General shares the deep concern expressed yesterday by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, following the recent signing into law of the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act in Nigeria.  The law introduces a wide range of offences, in breach of fundamental human rights, including 14-year jail terms for same-sex couples who live together or attempt to solemnize their union with a ceremony.  The Secretary-General fears that the law may fuel prejudice and violence, and notes with alarm reports that police in northern Nigeria have arrested individuals believed by the authorities to be homosexuals, and may even have tortured them.  As the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the Global Fund noted in a statement yesterday, the law also risks obstructing effective responses to HIV/AIDS.

The Secretary-General reiterates that everyone is entitled to enjoy the same basic rights and live a life of worth and dignity without discrimination.  This fundamental principle is embedded in the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Secretary-General strongly hopes that the constitutionality of the law can be reviewed.  The United Nations stands ready to assist Nigeria in any way to bring about constructive dialogue and change on this matter.

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For information media • not an official record