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Biden threatens financial and visa sanctions against Nigeria, over gay law


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US. President, Biden.

President of the United States, Joe Biden has rekindled the United States’ interest in promoting LGBTQ rights on the global stage, particularly in countries perceived as intolerant to sexual minorities.

Scaling up a presidential memorandum ratified by the Obama administration in 2011, which had sought to advance the rights of the queer community, Biden in a new memo last week directed all US embassies and executive departments to “promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons everywhere.”

“Specifically, I direct the following actions, consistent with applicable law:

“Section 1. Combating Criminalization of LGBTQI+ Status or Conduct Abroad. Agencies engaged abroad are directed to strengthen existing efforts to combat the criminalization by foreign governments of LGBTQI+ status or conduct and expand efforts to combat discrimination, homophobia, transphobia, and intolerance on the basis of LGBTQI+ status or conduct,” Biden’s memo directed.

Biden has shown his dedication to implementing this worldwide, including potentially through the use of financial sanctions. Continuing, his memo threatens “swift and meaningful” responses, including financial sanctions against countries found guilty of human rights abuses of LGBTQI+ persons.

Nigeria’s anti-gay law has been in place since 2014 under former President Goodluck Jonathan, which makes Nigeria one of the countries considered as intolerant to sexual minorities and overtly homophobic. Even though there is a community of LGBTQ+ members in Nigeria, the anti-gay law forbids them from coming to light; breaking this law could bag the individuals involved up to 14 years in federal prison.

The law prescribes between 10 to 14 years in prison for cohabitation between same-sex sexual partners; same for public show of same-sex relationship; registration, operation or participation in gay clubs, societies and organization, amongst others.

Nigeria’s anti-gay laws have been increasingly censured by global rights groups, which have categorized the country as overtly homophobic.

While a presidential memorandum is largely symbolic, Biden campaigned on a pledge to pass LGBTQ rights legislation known as the Equality Act in the first 100 days of his administration and to make LGBTQ rights a top priority.

The memo directs US agencies working abroad to work harder to combat the criminalization by foreign governments of LGBTQ status or conduct, and directs the State Department to include anti-LGBTQ violence, discrimination and laws in its annual human rights report.

Biden announced the push during a forceful speech at the State Department, vowing to rebuild US credibility worldwide.

“To further repair our moral leadership, I’m also issuing a presidential memo to agencies to reinvigorate our leadership on the LGBTQI issues and do it internationally,” he said.

President Biden has been making decisions that have impacted Nigerians positively, especially lifting the ban against Nigeria, and there is no doubt that this new intended policy is not going to be easy on Nigeria as a country. But as a people, especially with regards to Nigerian youth who have made up their minds on migration, many have moved past the government on this issue long ago.

Although it is not certain how the government of Nigeria would respond to this threat, one will agree that the events of this policy will be interesting as it unfolds.


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