The law stipulated that those found guilty of being in a same-sex relationship can face up to 14 years in jail. Not only is homosexuality illegal in Nigeria as a whole but Northern Nigeria, which enforces Sharia law, issues the death penalty for persons found guilty of it. Other countries that kill people for their sexuality include Mauritania, Sudan and Southern Somalia.
These governments are not alone. Popular opinion is also gravitating towards anti-gay sentiments. According to a survey conducted by The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs), a Nigeria-based human rights organisation, about 90% of the 2 000 interviewed Nigerians support the continued enforcement of the SSMPA.
Another survey, conducted by Pew Research in 2013, found that 98% of people in Nigeria believe LGBTQI+ people should not be accepted by society.
An embodiment of the views help by both government and the public views on the issue of homosexuality is Dolapo Badmos, a chief superintendent and spokeswoman for the Lagos State Police Command. The high-ranking law enforcer issued a statement on her Instagram page, warning the LGBTQI+ community to leave the country or face prosecution.
Although a different survey by NOI Polls commissioned by TIERs done in 2017 showed a seven percent increase in the acceptance rates of LGBTQI+ people in Nigeria when compared to a similar survey from two years earlier, it is evident by the responses to Badmos’s post that the percentage may be overly hopeful.
It is however notable that majority felt the superintendents priorities were misplaced and she was seeking soft targets to distract from the important issues the police force is failing to address. The Nigerian public may not be tolerant of the LGBTQI+ community but they are surely intolerant of prioritizing their prosecution above actual crime and social ills that are detrimental to society as a whole.