Biden threatens financial, visa sanctions against Nigeria over anti-gay law
The new US President Joe Biden has signlled his administration would slam Nigeria with financial sanctions and visa restrictions if the African country does not tolerate sexual minorities.
The threat was not only targeted at Africa’s largest economy. Other countries that ban gay relationships were to face similar blows.
FIRST REPORTS reports that homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria, under the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, signed by then-President Goodluck Jonathan, in January 2014.
But Mr Biden in a new memo last week directed all US embassies to promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons “everywhere”.
The 78-year-old US President said that all human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are or whom they love.
“Around the globe, including here at home [United States], brave lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) activists are fighting for equal protection under the law, freedom from violence, and recognition of their fundamental human rights,” he said.
“The United States belongs at the forefront of this struggle — speaking out and standing strong for our most dearly held values.”
Mr Biden stressed that it shall be the policy of the US “to pursue an end to violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics”.
“Through this memorandum, I am directing all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that United States diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons”. (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex.)
The President stated that “when foreign governments move to restrict the rights of LGBTQI+ persons or fail to enforce legal protections in place, thereby contributing to a climate of intolerance, agencies engaged abroad shall consider appropriate responses, including using the full range of diplomatic and assistance tools and, as appropriate, financial sanctions, visa restrictions, and other actions”.
US President Joe Biden addresses a crowd on October 26, 2019, in Florence, South Carolina (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
He also directed the following actions, consistent with applicable law:
“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. The Department of State shall, on an annual basis and as part of the annual report submitted to the Congress pursuant to sections 116(d) and 502B(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151n(d) and 2304(b)), report on human rights abuses experienced by LGBTQI+ persons globally. This reporting shall include anti-LGBTQI+ laws as well as violence and discrimination committed by both state and nonstate actors against LGBTQI+ persons.
“In order to improve protection for LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers at all stages of displacement, the Departments of State and Homeland Security shall enhance their ongoing efforts to ensure that LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers have equal access to protection and assistance, particularly in countries of first asylum. In addition, the Departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Security shall ensure appropriate training is in place so that relevant Federal Government personnel and key partners can effectively identify and respond to the particular needs of LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers, including by providing to them adequate assistance and ensuring that the Federal Government takes all appropriate steps, such as potential increased use of Embassy Priority-1 referrals, to identify and expedite resettlement of highly vulnerable persons with urgent protection needs.
“Agencies involved with foreign aid, assistance, and development programs shall expand their ongoing efforts to ensure regular Federal Government engagement with governments, citizens, civil society, and the private sector to promote respect for the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons and combat discrimination. Agencies involved with foreign aid, assistance, and development programs should consider the impact of programs funded by the Federal Government on human rights, including the rights of LGBTQI+ persons, when making funding decisions, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law.”