Anti-gay law: Why 10 US senators wants to punish Nigeria
Following the anti-gay law signed by President Goodluck Jonathan earlier this year, 10 US senators have moved an injunction against Nigeria. The senators, led by Senator Christopher Murphy (D-Conn), highlighted a section of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to make their case against Nigeria as well as Uganda, which also enacted similar anti-gay laws.
AGOA, authorised in 2000, makes big, non-reciprocal incentives for sub-Saharan African countries to expand trade, stimulate economic growth and integrate into the global economy. These benefits are currently being enjoyed mostly by agricultural and textile exporters, including small and medium scale businesses.
However, the eligibility clause says a beneficiary country must not “engage in gross violations of international recognized human rights”. Gay rights are considered as basic human rights. The senators argued that anti-gay laws severely limit access to health care, housing, education and freedom of expression.
“We are deeply concerned over a growing trend of laws and proposed legislation targeting LGBT individuals in Africa, which violates the standards set forth in the African Growth and Opportunity Act. We therefore ask that your Administration review Nigeria and Uganda’s eligibility for AGOA’s trade preference and, if it is determined that those countries are not ‘making continual progress’ in meeting the statute’s requirements, that you take steps to revoke AGOA eligibility to Nigeria and Uganda,” the senators stated in a letter to President Barrack Obama.
The letter was signed by Senators, Christopher S. Murphy, Tammy Baldwin, Martin Heinrich, Richard Blumenthal, Barbara Boxer, Al Franken, Kirsten Gillibrand, Edward Markey, Sherrod Brown and Mark E. Udall.
Nigeria has in the past received sanction threats, with some being enforced. In 2013 Nigeria was sanctioned by The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) over Corruption Fight in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Nigeria was blamed for what the FATF described as deceit to the international community on the fight against corruption.
In the same year, America threatened to sanction Nigeria over the pardon of ex-convict Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. The U.S had condemned GEJ’s action, saying, it was deeply disappointed over pardon of a corrupt official as it was a setback in the fight against corruption.
Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Guinea and Niger have lost AGOA eligibility in the past because of military coups.