Enhancing LGBT Rights in Africa: a case study of Nigeria

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Teologiska institutionen


In the last decade several western countries have greatly enhanced the rights of sexual minorities in their societies. Same-sex marriage is now legal in most states in the United States, while about twenty three countries in Europe presently allow same-sex marriage or some form of civil partnership. Africa on the other hand is witnessing a rise in the number of countries further criminalizing sexual minorities and homophobia is rising across the continent. Homosexuality is illegal in 76 countries in the world, 38 of which are in Africa and of these 38, homosexuality is punishable by death in 4.

Though a growing discourse, existing literature and scholarly papers till date have rarely focused on the impediments to LGBT rights in the African continent. The few existing literature have looked at LGBT rights in Africa from the policy perspective without taking the popularity of anti-gay laws into consideration as seen in a country like Nigeria where 98 percent of the population supports anti-gay measures.

An explorative qualitative research study was used to explore the impediments to LGBT rights in Nigeria and how they can be addressed. Secondary data from verifiable sources and primary data from semi-structured, formal, open ended interviews with individuals deeply informed of the discourse in Nigeria was used for the research. Data retrieved was analysed using thematic analysis to identify recurrent themes from the interview transcripts before a comprehensive discussion and triangulation of both primary and secondary data was conducted.

The research found that religious beliefs and the existence of LGBT knowledge gaps are the major impediments to LGBT rights in Nigeria. The research findings suggests that closing these LGBT knowledge gaps through enlightenment will over time repress the strong religious and ideological views held against LGBTs. With the decline of these views, the research suggests that LGBT rights will naturally emerge. The study also developed three testable hypotheses for future studies.

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