Editorials, Opinions

Our View: We need to give Nigeria some time

On Jan. 7, the Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, signed an anti-gay law.

Under the new law, any Nigerian entering a same-sex union can be sentenced to a 14-year prison term, according to an article from The Washington Post.

Other penalties for same-sex relations include a 10-year sentence for anyone involved in same-sex “operations,” like gay clubs, societies or meetings, as well as public displays of affection between same-sex couples, according to The Washington Post.

Nigeria had banned gay sex prior to the law.

Nigeria is one of 38 African countries where homosexuality is illegal, according to Amnesty International. Mauritania, Sudan and Somalia carry the death penalty for homosexuality.

American news outlets have been reporting on the consequences of the Nigerian anti-gay law, including public acts of violence in the streets of Nigeria and the prosecution of speculated gay men.

Some news publications are criticizing the lack of involvement from Western Societies to solve the Nigeria anti-gay crisis.

“Both [Britain and the U.S.] should be aggressively using their leverage to protect the vulnerable gay community,” the editorial board at Washington Post said.

Nigeria receives hundreds of millions of dollars in development aid from Britain, while the U.S. purchases 70 percent of Nigeria’s oil.

With Nigeria having close ties to westernized countries, some news outlets have suggested that the U.S. and Britain should cut ties from Nigeria.

We agree that Nigeria’s anti-gay law is inhumane, but Nigeria is not the only country where homosexuality is punishable by law.

For the most part, the countries that penalize homosexuality are developing countries, such as Cameroon, Uganda, Iran, Qatar, Jamaica and even Russia, where this year’s Winter Olympics are being held.

We understand that these laws are discriminatory, but the U.S. doesn’t have a perfect track record in human rights either.

Even the U.S., a democratic country founded on the ideals of equality for all, has yet to legalize gay marriage across every state.

Proposition 8, the 2008 California ballot proposition that kept same-sex marriage illegal, passed. As recent as six years ago, Californians were not ready to accept same-sex unions.

In fact, only 17 countries around the world recognize same-sex marriage, according to Reuters.

Countries that penalize homosexuality are cause for concern, but not to the point that the U.S. should impose political or economic sanctions.

We hope that in time, all developing countries will abolish anti-gay laws, but seeing as how gay rights are still an ongoing fight in developed countries, it’s not something that can be rushed in underdeveloped nations.

Each society grows into its own understanding after centuries of trial and error, and to compare the U.S.’ same-sex legislation to Nigeria’s is like comparing apples to oranges.

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