Nigeria has warned that the UN could turn into a "guinea pig" of policies that cannot be implemented by member states, following a resolution that endorsed the rights of gay, lesbian and transgender people.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nigeria voted against a South-Africa sponsored resolution that endorsed the rights of gay, lesbian and transgender people for the first time ever at the UN Human Rights Council.
Nigeria's vote was, however, not enough to defeat the resolution which was passed on Friday by the Geneva-based Council with 23 votes in favour, 19 against and three abstentions.
The declaration expressed "grave concern" about abuses because of sexual orientation and commissioned a global report on discrimination against gays.
It called for a panel discussion next year with "constructive, informed and transparent dialogue on the issue of discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against" gays, lesbians and transgender people.
The resolution brought forward by South Africa was backed by the US the EU, Brazil and other Latin American countries.
Nigeria, which spoke on behalf of the African group at the Council, was prominent among the nations that voted against including Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. China, Burkina Faso and Zambia abstained while Kyrgyzstan didn't vote, as well as Libya which was suspended from the 47 member states amid violations of human rights by Mohammar Gaddafi's regime.
Speaking on behalf of the African group, Nigeria's representative at the Council Ositadinma Anaedu said African countries, "and more than 90 per cent of the African people" did not support the resolution.
He said notions on sexual orientation should not be imposed on countries and warned against turning the "UN into a guinea pig" of policies that could not be implemented by member countries.
"African Group remains committed to the principle of non-discrimination. African group believes that no human being should be subjected to any discrimination because of any particular behaviour inherent in his or her nature.
"African groups believe very strongly that at all times we should focus and conduct our work in a way that will advance collective commitment of human rights and not undermine it.
"Mr President, If I may ask how come that all countries that lack the ability to have laws and rules and constitutional enactment on issue of sexual orientation only have the guts in the Human Rights Council.
"Does it not show fraudulent practice? Because countries that lack the political will within their nations to subject themselves to the true picture of democracy are the ones that are here imposing in their countries things that they did not accept.
"It means going against all norms of what we are preaching here: principles of transparency, principles of democracy; principles of accountability." Anaedu noted that of recent, one of the countries that voted in favour of the resolution had the issue rejected at home in Europe and added that even "the greatest country on earth does not have this as a constitutional provision.
"But every time we are turning the UN into a guinea pig in things that we cannot even implement at home," he said.
The Nigerian representative cautioned that the Human Rights Council should be careful not to go against its objective of promoting "human rights."
Meanwhile in a statement on Friday, the Obama administration which had been pushing for gay rights both domestically and internationally strongly backed the declaration.
A White House statement said the resolution marked a "significant milestone in the long struggle for equality."
"This marks a significant milestone in the long struggle for equality, and the beginning of a universal recognition that (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) persons are endowed with the same inalienable rights - and entitled to the same protections - as all human beings," the White House said.
Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Nigeria and is punishable by death through stoning in the 12 states that have adopted Shari'a law, and by up to 14 years imprisonment throughout Nigeria.
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Punishing anyone because of their sexual orientation is criminal by any government. If such laws still exist in Nigeria's statute books then it should be expunged immediately. There are many criminal and heinous crimes that need the attention of government, not least corruption of public office holders. Gays and Lesbians are not our problem, by any stretch of imagination.