Nigeria’s New Law Criminalizing Gays

India Nigeria Locator

India Nigeria Locator (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First India, and now Nigeria.

Albeit, the situation in Nigeria is far worse.

Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, signed into law a draconian anti-gay bill. Same sex relationships were already illegal in Nigeria but under the new law, anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage or partnership may be jailed for up to 14 years. The new law also bans people who register, operate or participate in gay clubs, societies or organizations, or who publicly show that they are in a same-sex relationship.

In less than a week, dozens of people have been rounded up, arrested, and questioned under the new anti-gay law. 11 Muslim men in Nigeria also face a possible death sentence. More disturbing reports are trickling out. Amnesty International, and many other countries have called for the government to halt the homophobic witch-hunt. Some are also exploring withholding foreign aid to Nigeria.

Withholding aid is not particularly helpful in such a situation. Nigeria’s LGBT community needs all the help it can get in order to work to change attitudes or escape the situation in their home country, if that is what they want to do.

There are reports of some people escaping persecution by obtaining false documents or visas to travel to the U.S. or another country (though they must reveal their true identity and apply for asylum at the port of entry), but it is unclear who and how this underground railroad is organized. Also, I am not sure if asylum seekers who make it to the U.S. only to be locked up in detention for months, sometimes years, as arriving aliens, are better off here or there. It’s like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Perhaps they are better off finding another country. 

While the law spells terror for Nigerians, it is a blessing in disguise for many LGBT Nigerians already in the U.S., who can now seek asylum, withholding, or reopen their failed asylum claims. If you have gay friends and family members from Nigeria, do let them know to consult an immigration attorney for help in seeking asylum from Nigeria.


Please note: Nothing in this post denotes legal advice or is offered in substitution of advice from a lawyer. Success is not guaranteed in every case, and results often vary. 

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GW Law’s Transgender Spring Problem Turns Real

GW Law

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I haven’t been a happy camper lately. Last week was hellish with regards to hate and the last thing I needed was a heads-up that the school isn’t doing all it could do to fight the transphobia that has come about as a result of the Legal Research and Writing (LRW) spring problem. I’ve been given the impression from some peers that the LRW program has been manipulative when it comes to dealing with LAMBDA holding the recommended sensitivity trainings. I don’t really know all the details. The Dean for the LRW program has denied these claims fervently though, expressed her support for LAMBDA Law and she seems to be looking into the situation. Then again, after working in new media for so long, I know a carefully vetted press statement when I see one.

There seems to be a lot of mis-communication. There are rumors of professors saying and doing inappropriate things that may amount to sexual harassment claims. Calling the transgender plaintiff “it” is high up on the list. In turn, several students did not abide by the student code of conduct. I know students who have complained about their professors or are thinking of complaining once the appellate brief is in. Many more will just sit through it all quietly till grades come out.  When I found out, I was angry and hurt and of course accusations were hurled back and forth, and it certainly did not seem to help the situation. It did not help me focus on finishing my appellate brief as a whole different problem festered in my mind all weekend long. Several sources now tell me that my angry emails may have helped to kick-start some people into gear and I shouldn’t worry about getting into trouble. That’s not it.

Despite the fact that the LRW program was open enough to take on a sensitive issue such as transgender discrimination under Title VII, my opinion of the school and the way it has dealt with resulting transphobia is at rock-bottom right now. I’m not sure what happened in the past, how much planning and sensitivity went into handling the situation and I don’t think I care to know right about now. The results are evident: some people were hurt in the process, scared to go to school and felt ostracized. I know I spent several days upset and seething. I do want to know what everyone on the payroll at GW LRW is doing to rectify the situation and make sure this does not happen again.

I’m sure most of them mean well and they are also dedicated, hard-working people with absolutely no intention to discriminate. That does not excuse what has happened and I find it deplorable that the program cannot address it beyond just offering to fire people. The problems are directly due to the failure of the LRW program to educate people on the issue. Of course, pointing that out leads to “hurt feelings” amongst administrators. If you are hurt as an administrator, imagine how the LGBT students on campus are feeling right now because the LRW program has not met their needs and they have felt ostracized due to all the ignorance.

Amidst all this hue and cry, we had a hate crime on campus last week because some douchebag perceived a straight guy as a gay male and decided to beat him up. Some people are straight-up defending the hate crime over at the GW Hatchet. All in all, I’m sure the entire LGBT community at The George Washington University is feeling really loved and safe right about now. Not.

After hours of discussion, the LRW program feels that it is not important to provide an avenue for education on transgender issues after creating this problem (and they are probably never going to do a topic like this ever again, using this as an experience)
AND the school administration also thinks it is not so important to rectify the problem to give us 10-15 minutes of class time to do trainings.

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