Minister of State for Trade and Development, Joe Costello says he told the Nigerian Ambassador Felix Y Pwol that statements made in Dublin last week by Governor of the Delta State in Nigeria, comparing homosexuality to paedophillia, were not acceptable.
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan made the anti-gay comments while accepting an award at Metro Éireann’s International Leadership Awards ceremony in Dublin on Saturday, January 18, at which Minister Costello was in attendance.
While accepting his award, Governor Uduaghan said, “I am sure no one here in this country would accept a condition in which an adult can sleep with a 10-year-old girl. If that situation is not acceptable, we in Nigeria view gay marriage as such.”
“Let me say clearly that such comments are not acceptable,” Minister Costello told The Outmost and GCN. “I made this clear to the Nigerian Ambassador at the end of the event.”
Minister Costello also confirmed that he will raise the issue with the Ambassador at a meeting and express his disapproval of Governor Uduaghan’s comments.
Legislation was introduced in Nigeria on January 13 that will impose penalties of up to 14 years in prison and bans gay marriage, same-sex “amorous relationships” and membership of gay rights groups.
Governor Uduaghan’s speech was in reply to a call by National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Secretary, Séamus Dooley, for an end to repressive treatment of LGBT citizens in Nigeria. Dooley also won a Metro Eireann award, recognising his work for integration and anti-racism.
The NUJ has since written to the Ambassador Pwol, protesting at the tone and content Governor Uduaghan’s speech.
General Secretary of the NUJ, Michelle Stanistreet, said that Uduaghan’s explicit statement “confirmed our fears that the current legislation is informed by a homophobic perspective which views human rights as dispensable.”
“As a union concerned with freedom of expression we have highlighted the violation of the rights of the media,” he added.
Organisers of the awards ceremony, Metro Éireann told The Outmost and GCN that they “would like to state categorically that Gov Uduaghan’s opinions on homosexuality were unknown prior to the occasion, and do not in any way represent the views of this newspaper.”
“We are currently engaging the governor on the matter, Metro Éireann added.
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