10 Dec 2011- Nigeria, on Thursday, came under attack at the United Nations headquarters in New York, United States of America, over the recently passed Senate bill banning same sex marriage in the country, as human rights activists who spoke at the world body suggested that homosexuality lifestyle is a human rights issue, Empowered Newswire has reported.
Holding a panel discussion on ending violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation at the UN office to mark the annual Human Rights Day, the Executive Director of the Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth and a Nigerian gay rights activist, Ifeanyi Orazulike, took turns to condemn the bill.
They called for international action against Nigeria and other countries passing such laws against what the speakers called “sexual minorities,” and “human rights.”
Orazulike, who is the Executive Director of the International Center for the Advocacy and Rights to Health, based in New York and Abuja, said since he launched a campaign against the bill, he had been receiving death threats on his email, texts and Facebook page.
He disclosed that he would be returning soon to Nigeria after his advocacy and schooling there, but “I am afraid for my life and the life of my son.”
In a similar vein, Roth, who moderated the panel, counted Nigeria among the countries where there had been “negative development,” recently regarding the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
Speakers at the UN panel also included the Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, whose message was read at the event.
Ban said, “homophobic bullying of young people constitutes a “grave violation of human rights,” adding that government would take the necessary measures to protect their citizens from violence and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
In his speech delivered by the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonovic, the Secretary-General said there are currently 76 countries where individuals face criminal sanctions for engaging in private in consensual sexual relations with another adult of the same sex.
According to Mr. Šimonovic the UN has been working to establish dialogue with these States to advance the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons and that while several countries have made remarkable progress, there is still much to be done.
“Gradually, States are coming to see that the commitments to eliminate discrimination enshrined in the Universal Declaration [of Human Rights] and in our core United Nations human rights treaties apply to everyone, not just heterosexuals but gays and lesbians and bisexual, transgender and intersex people too.”
The panel discussion included the participation of Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard, a gay United States man who was tortured and killed in the US. There were also Doi Nakpor, Nadine Moawad and Orazulike, human rights defenders from Thailand, Lebanon and Nigeria, respectively.