The Senate of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, has passed a new law that will impose 14-year sentences on citizens found to be homosexuals. In addition, anyone who aids or “abets” same-sex unions will face 10 years in prison. The latter provision seems directed at human rights groups that work to help gays and lesbians who often face violence and discrimination in the country.
British prime minister, David Cameron, recently threatened to withhold aid from nations violating gays rights — triggering a backlash among African countries who insist that they have a right to criminally punish people for their sexual orientation.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe took that opposition to a new level and called Cameron “satanic” for defending gays, adding “Do not get tempted into that (homosexuality) madness. You are young people. If you go that direction, we will punish you severely. It is condemned by nature. It is condemned by insects and that is why I have said they are worse than pigs and dogs.” Condemned by insects? Mugabe must get news letters that are not available to the rest of us. It is a remarkable assertion of moral superiority from one of the most corrupt and cruel dictators in the world. It appears that the only thing worse than being gay is using Mugabe’s toilet, or perhaps a gay person using his toilet. That is also condemned by insects. Since “if you go [any] direction, [Mugabe] will punish you severely,” it really doesn’t matter if you are gay.
The Nigerian law raises serious questions about Western support in such countries — the same question raised in Afghanistan where women are denied basic rights. Should we follow Cameron’s lead and withhold aid to such countries in light of their denial of basic human rights?
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