Leading western countries piled pressure on the Federal government, yesterday, following President Goodluck Jonathan's signing of the Same-Sex Prohibition Act 2014. The latest country is the United States of America, whose Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr James Entwistle threatened that the United States will scale down its support for HIV/AIDS and anti-malaria programmes in response to the Federal Government's position on the gay rights issue.
Member countries of the European Union and Canada have expressed their objection to the law but United States Ambassador to Nigeria said he was worried about "the implications of the anti-same sex marriage law which seems to restrict the fundamental rights of a section of the Nigerian population."
This came as a former Nigerian Ambassador to US, Dahiru Suleiman, yesterday, described homosexuality and lesbianism as "animalistic and degrading to humanity."
Also yesterday Christians in the northern part of Nigeria under the aegis of Christian Association of Nigeria in the 19 northern states an Abuja, hailed President Goodluck Jonathan for signing into law the anti-gay bill, urging him to ignore criticisms from Western nations, saying all religions in the country are united in their condemnation of same-sex marriage.
In a reaction to the recent move of government to outlaw homosexuality from this country, the Public Relations Officer of Northern CAN, Elder Sunday Oibe told Vanguard that Christians from the North and their counterparts in other religions have unanimously expressed gratitude to the president and the National Assembly for passing the Anti-Same Sex Marriage despite opposition from Europe and the US.
Speaking to news men in Abuja, yesterday, the American envoy said his interpretation of the new law was that "it could negatively affect the nation's fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic". Although the US envoy denied that his country plans to impose sanctions on Nigeria, he said: "We and other donors are looking at the issue of funding for HIV/AIDS. As you know, we put millions of dollars in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
"Although I am not a lawyer, I read the bill and it seems to me that it may put some restrictions on what we can do to help fight HIV/AIDS in this country. These are the issues we are looking at as we consider the law."
The signing of the Same sex Prohibition Act by President Jonathan on January 7, 2014 has provoked negative reactions from member countries of EU, Canada and now the United States all of whom have alleged that the law is a violation of the fundamental human rights of Nigerians with same sex orientation.
Ambassador Entwistle said he was aware that "the issue of same-sex marriage was very controversial all over the world, including within the United States where 17 states out of 50 had endorsed it, but others still reject its legality". According to him, "the issue that we see and I am speaking as a friend of Nigeria is that as I read the bill, it looks to me that it puts significant restrictions on the freedoms of assembly and expression; in my opinion which applies especially in advanced democracies, once government begins to say something in these areas, freedom no longer applies. It seems to me that this is a very worrisome precedent."
A lecturer at Covenant University, Professor Kayode Soremekun said: "What is happening demonstrates the low level that the US treats its relation with Nigeria".
He said every Nigerian should feel insulted that the US is threatening to stop assisting us on areas where we have the resources and human capacity to contend.
Said Professor Soremekun, "even when the West had their misgivings about Russia's anti-gay law, they have not gone threatening them with sanctions and punitive action. We are not reckoned with in the international arena where we are getting assistance for HIV/AIDS, Malaria treatment drugs, polio virus crusade among other mundane issues".
He continued: "Nigeria is still a conservative society and the anti-gay law has united the ruling class and Nigerians outside government at this le