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No, Nigeria has not signed an agreement to legalise homosexuality

IN SHORT: The caption of a video shared on social media claims that the Nigerian government has quietly signed a deal to legalise homosexuality in the country.  But the deal isn't about LGBTQ rights, and the Nigerian government didn't sign it.

The caption of a video circulating on Instagram and Facebook claims that the Nigerian government has secretly signed an agreement to legalise homosexuality in the country. 

The poorly written caption reads: “GAY & LESBIANISM IS NOW LEGAL IN NIGERIA! This was signed Codedly I saw this coming. One of the reasons why Tinubu will agree to this is because of USA & EU. It is probably part of the agreement he with them so they can legitimize him. I wonder how Shettima feels about this. I wonder what the Muslim society feels about this. wonder what the Christian society feels about this. I wonder the Sharia practicing states in Nigeria feels about this.”

The video appears on Facebook here, here, here, here, here and here.


The controversial agreement

The EU-ACP agreement is a legal framework for the partnership between the European Union (EU) and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS). It became the subject of public debate in Nigeria after civil society groups cautioned the Nigerian government about the new agreement.  

The video shows an interview on Arise Television with civil society leaders.

Sonnie Ekwowusi, who chairs the African Bar Association’s Human and Constitutional Rights Committee, said provisions in the new EU-ACP agreement promote LGBTQ and are therefore against the law in Nigeria.

LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer, and refers to these sexual orientations and gender identities.  An “I” for intersex is sometimes added to the acronym.

Ekwowusi said: “This cannot go because LGBT is illegal in Nigeria. There was the Same Sex Prohibition Act of 2014 which was enacted during the administration of [president Goodluck] Jonathan, and that law is still there. Why should [we] now go ahead and sign a document that has to do with the promotion of LGBT? It’s completely unacceptable. We should not sign. Nigeria should say no.”

Agreement not about LGBTQ

The new EU-ACP partnership agreement, signed on 15 November 2023, is known as the Samoa Agreement and it has replaced the Cotonou Agreement, which was signed in 2000.

According to the Samoa Agreement website, the decision to sign and provisionally apply the new agreement was taken on 20 July 2023.

We reviewed the 403-page agreement and found no provision that explicitly promotes LGBTQ rights. 

It does, however, include provisions against all forms of sexual, gender and identity-based violence and stresses the need for “universal access to quality and affordable comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and education”.

The new agreement has six priority areas:

  • democracy and human rights
  • sustainable economic growth and development
  • climate change
  • human and social development
  • peace and security
  • migration and mobility

The agreement is expected to be provisionally applied from 1 January 2024. It will enter into force once it has been approved by the European Parliament and ratified by the parties - all EU member states and at least two-thirds of the OACPS members.

Nigeria hasn’t signed

A statement dated 16 November and signed by Francisca Omayuli, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, denied that the Nigerian government had signed the agreement.

“The general public is invited to note that Nigeria was not represented at the signing ceremony, which took place in Samoa on Wednesday, 15th November 2023 and hence has not signed the Agreement. Relevant Nigerian stakeholders are currently studying the instrument with a view to ensuring that its provisions do not contravene Nigeria’s domestic legislation,” the statement said in its final paragraph.

Nigeria’s Same-sex Marriage Prohibition Act 2013, which came into force in 2014, prohibits the “public show of same-sex amorous relationship” and stipulates a 14-year jail term for a “person who enters into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union commits an offence and is liable on conviction”.  The law remains in force.

The claim that the Nigerian government has signed an agreement to legalise homosexuality in the country is false.

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