With some states in Nigeria advocating death by stoning as punishment for same-sex relations, it was understandably heartening to hear presidential hopeful Donald Duke publicly say he would not criminalise homosexuality. However, it appears hopes were unfounded as Duke has now backtracked on the statement.
In an interview on the Nigerian show On The Couch, the presidential candidate said when asked about his views on LGBT+ rights: “I don’t understand the emotional feelings a gay person would have toward someone of their sexuality. I don’t understand it. But I would not criminalise them. I would ensure that they have the protection of the law.”
He continued: “I can have a gay person in my cabinet, his sexuality is private to him. I don’t want to know if he’s gay, it’s not my business. My business is if he can perform the assignment that he’s been assigned.”
There was immediate backlash with many taking affront to his relatively accepting attitude. It wasn’t long before Duke doubled back on his previous words.
Duke posted a revised viewpoint to his Instagram page which read: “Recently a statement I made during an interview concerning gay rights and homosexuality has been construed as my affirmation of homosexuality and same sex marriage. Nothing is further from the truth. Homosexuality is a crime in Nigeria and ought to remain so.”
While he did slightly lessen the blow by saying “I would not go seeking homosexuals for prosecution as this is liable to abuses and as such would rather not delve into the sexuality of an individual,” he followed with “for the avoidance of doubt, our law on homosexuality stands in fact and in my moral rectitude.”
The situation for LGBT+ people in Nigeria is difficult to say the least. It was recently reported that police raided a birthday party and arrested 57 men for “suspected homosexual activity”.
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