Between Local Acceptability and International Opprobrium: On Nigeria’s Anti-Same Sex Marriage Law; Is Western Voice a Human Rights Advocacy or Cultural Imperialism?

Mike Omilusi


Today, homosexual activity is legally prohibited in thirty-eight of Africa’s fifty-four countries and many of them have come to the fore in opposing the notion that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) rights should be protected legally. For Nigeria, its federal law criminalizes homosexuality and this creates a hostile situation for Nigeria’s beleaguered LGBT+ community. The interplay between same-sex marriage and human rights has generated considerable debate since the act, which stipulates 14 years imprisonment for offenders, was enacted in the country. It has drawn international condemnation from countries such as the United States and Britain. But the overwhelming majority of Nigerians who support the same sex marriage (prohibition) law are adamant. This study therefore, interrogates the anti-same sex marriage law within the socio-cultural context of the African society. Substantially relying on secondary sources of data gathering, it scrutinizes the responses of Western politicians, government representatives and non-governmental organizations to the Nigeria’s (nay Africa) anti-same sex marriage law. It also situates the international antagonism within the realm of human rights advocacy or cultural imperialism. It conclusively establishes the congruent locations and divergent paths of local issues within global relations. Although this is not an empirical work, what I seek to emphasise in this article is that if cultural values can be seen to be more enduring (though amenable to changes) and by way of general acceptability, a biding law is made of such values, as in the case of anti-same sex marriage law in many African countries, it will amount to cultural imposition when strident antagonism comes from without.


Human rights; Imperialism; Same sex marriage; Antagonism; Homosexuality; Advocacy

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