President Buhari must not succumb to pressures on gay marriages
President Muhammadu Buhari is now in the United States to discuss matters of common interest to both countries and, in particular, the trajectory of the Nigerian government in its battles with a wobbling national economy, insurgency and corruption, among other problems. He left the country on Sunday and is expected to return home tomorrow.
There were early indications, before the trip, that the US government would use the circumstance of the visit to make yet another attempt to prevail on Nigerian to repeal its law against same-sex marriage. Washington was one of the most vociferous and persistent of world governments in its condemnation of Nigeria`s anti-gay law; suggesting even the possibility of sanctions against the country in the event of non-compliance. That its posture and disposition amounted to presumption and blatant cultural imperialism was obviously lost on the US.
Before President Buhari left Nigeria, there were indications that President Barack Obama’s government was set on taking the matter much further. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, last week, announced the resolve of the American State to mount serious and sustained pressure on Nigeria until it legalised same-sex marriage. With gay marriages legalised in the US the country has “adopted the protection of the rights of same-sex people as part of its foreign policies”. The fallout of this is the plan to pressure Nigeria and other countries with similar laws to reverse legislations against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) community.
In the words of Thomas-Greenfield: “As a government, it is one of the highest priorities and strongest values that discrimination against anyone based on their sexual orientation and gender identity is wrong…we will continue to press the government of Nigeria, as well as other governments which have provided legislation that discriminate against the LGBT community.”
In a well-choreographed conspiracy, Human Rights Watch also wrote a letter to President Obama, urging him regarding LGBT to “continue to call for greater respect for human rights and the rule of law as an essential component of Nigeria’s ability to manage challenges effectively”.
While the US government is entitled to the promotion of its foreign policy, whatever its content might be, there are critical issues being ignored when dealing with other countries, especially in Africa. By stigmatising Nigeria and Uganda as having the most intolerant legislation on the gay community, and saying that it will bring about a reversal of the laws in both countries, the US is pretending to be guided by superior human values. This is objectionable at best. In real terms, it is a reprehensible attempt to act the chaperon on values for a world that accepts the cross-cultural undertones of its humanity.
Therefore, while in the US, it is important that President Buhari sees through the utter disregard for the autonomy and sovereignty of our country as a nation-state. Marriage for us, as German Chancellor, Ms Angela Merkel, has aptly defined it, is between a man and a woman. Our diverse cultures and the various religions to which we subscribe as Nigerians do not recommend Washington’s baffling prescription on marriage. It rankles that the US should be so optimistic about winning the fight to protect and defend the LGBT community in places where such practices do not have any footing.
Ours is a nation that prides itself in a unity that is strengthened by a diversity that finds common concourse in a set of core values. Those core values do not include the endorsement of gay marriages. The least that we expect of any nation that claims to be Nigeria’s friend, well-wisher or partner in progress is to respect our core values. Rejection of same-sex union of any sorts is one of those core values. (THIS DAY)