Treatment of homosexuals, specifically cohabiting lesbians [NGA34869.E]

Information on the treatment of homosexuals is scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. No reports pertaining to homosexual cohabitation, specifically lesbian cohabitation, could be found among the sources consulted. Please consult NGA32977.E of 12 October 1999 for information on the treatment of homosexuals, including societal perceptions and legality.

In a 24 June 2000 report carried by Xinhua, a clerk, arrested for homosexuality in Nigeria's northern Zamfara State, "may be stoned to death if convicted under the Islamic law Sharia adopted by the state January this year." No additional information on this incident could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

According to a PlanetOut Website article of 4 May 2000, an independent Nigerian newspaper report on a gay wedding prompted Kano legislature member Yusuf Abdullahi to refer to the report as "an embarrassment to the image of the state and to all Moslems." His motion for an investigation passed and the reporter, as well as the editor, were called to testify before the legislature on 5 May 2000 (ibid). No additional information on this incident could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

On 29 December 1999, P.M. News reported that two female cadets had been arrested for allegedly engaging in a lesbian affair at the Nigeria Police College in Ikeja. The report also stated that the accused were allegedly "undergoing severe [unidentified] punishment" (ibid.). A police sergeant stated that "there was no option than to give them summary dismissal for constituting a public disgrace to the force" (ibid.).

According to IGLHRC, 1997 Year in Review, lesbian activists in Nigeria had reported a proposed law that would allegedly "criminalize same-sex relations between women with up to 3 years imprisonment" (GayLawNet n.d.). No additional information regarding this report was found among sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

A review of Out in the World, a publication by Neil Miller, on The Blackstripe Website, a "resource for news, information and culture affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people of African descent," states that there are approximately 33 different cultures, including the Yoruba in Northern Nigeria, where marriages between women are recognized (n.d.). The review states that "academics are quick to deny that lesbianism has any role in such arrangements despite considerable evidence to the contrary" (ibid.). Buchi Emecheta, a Nigerian writer, offered a personal view, on the New Internationalist Website, of Nigerian societal perceptions of homosexuals, which included the subject of female marriages (Nov. 1989). According to Emecheta, these unions are not sexual but an arrangement whereby a "rich woman" unable to produce a son "would pay a dowry for the younger girl and marry her" (idid.). Emecheta states that the younger girl would be encouraged to take a lover and produce a child for the "rich woman" (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


The Black Stripe. n.d. Alicia Banks. "Stolen Heritage: Reclaiming Our Birthright." [Accessed 10 July 2000]

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). (n.d.). "1997 Year in Review." [Accessed 10 July 2000]

The New Internationalist. November 1989. Buchi Emecheta. "Natural Gestures." [Accessed 10 July 2000]

PlanetOut. 4 May 2000. " Gay Wedding in Nigeria Upsets Lawmakers." [Accessed 10 July 2000]

P.M. News. 29 December 1999. Friday Olokor. "Police Recruitment Dogged by Lesbianism." (Africa News/NEXIS)

Xinhua. 24 8June 2000. "Major News Items in Leading Nigerian Newspapers." (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB databases


World News Connection (WNC)

Internet sites including:

Amnesty International

Human Rights Watch

Idasa BIS

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

The Lesbian and Gay Rights Task Force

Lesbian History Project

Lesbigay Special Interest Group of NAFSA: Association of International Educators


Sistah Scape

United Lesbians of African Heritage


West Africa News

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