A Year-And-Half After Legislation, Nigerians Still Support Anti-Same Sex Marriage Law

Abuja, Nigeria. June 30th, 2015 A poll conducted by NOIPolls in partnership with The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs) and Bisi Alimi Foundation to measure the perception of Nigerians towards the Lesbian, Gay and Bi-sexual (LGB) community, has revealed that majority of adult Nigerians (87 percent) remain in support of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Law signed by Former President Goodluck Jonathan in January 2014. However, this new figure is down 5-points from the 2013 poll result, where majority (92 percent) showed support for the bill. More findings revealed that majority of Nigerians (81 percent) do NOT believe homosexuals should have the same rights as other Nigerians, although a considerable proportion (30 percent) of Nigerians agree that homosexuals should  be given equal rights to access public services such as healthcare, housing and education.

Furthermore, the results showed that 9 in 10 Nigerians (90 percent) do not believe people are born homosexual, suggesting that being gay is a quality that is acquired through life’s experiences. Similarly, 87 percent of those interviewed stated that they would not be willing to accept a family member that is homosexual; although 11 percent showed willingness to accept a gay family member.  This new result is coming on the heels of the recent legalisation of ‘Same-Sex Marriage’ by The U.S. Supreme Court.[1]

Brief Background

Nigeria passed a Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act late 2013 and was signed by the Former President Goodluck Jonathan in January 2014.[2] The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act makes same-sex unions in Nigeria a criminal offence punishable by a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment. The Act also cites punishment for any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations directly or indirectly is liable to a term of 10 years imprisonment.

The Act has been challenged in the Federal High Court on its constitutionality, but it was struck out by Justice Kafarati in October 2014, on the grounds that the plaintiff lacked the requisite locus standi to sue on behalf of other Nigerians. In addition, the court argued that the plaintiff did not provide sufficient materials to show he had suffered or was about to suffer from the implementation of the Act.[3] There have also been claims by groups such as Queer Alliance, which stated that between January and December 2014, the Lesbian, Gay and Bi-sexual, (LGB) community recorded 105 cases of human right violations on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.[4]

Against this background, NOIPolls in partnership with The Initiative for Equal Rights and Bisi Alimi Foundation conducted a poll to measure the perceptions of Nigerians towards the LGB community in Nigeria, and their considered rights.

Key Findings

Respondents were asked a total of 5 specific questions and the results of 4 are presented in this release. For full report, please click here.

The first question of the survey sought to gauge the perception of Nigerians on whether People are born homosexual. Respondents were asked: In your opinion, do you think people are born Homosexual? Results revealed that 9 in 10 (90 percent) adult Nigerians nationwide do NOT believe people are born homosexual, with 5 percent suggesting their belief in people being born homosexual, and another 5 percent revealing they weren’t sure.

Interestingly, the younger generation (18-25 year olds) and those aged 61 years and over have the largest proportions of respondents who indicated they were unsure people were born homosexual.

Subsequently, respondents were asked: Personally, would you accept a family member if they were homosexual? Nationwide results revealed that majority of Nigerians (87 percent) are unwilling to accept a homosexual family member who’s found to be homosexual; whereas 11 percent are willing to personally accept such a family member. In addition, 2 percent disclosed they were unsure of their willingness to accept a homosexual family member.

Further analysis revealed that a larger proportion of adult females (13 percent) are more willing to accept a homosexual family member than adult males (10 percent).

Analysis by age, revealed that the proportion of Nigerians unwilling to accept a homosexual family member increased generally with age  (except for the 46-60 year category where there’s a slight decline).

Furthermore, Nigerians were asked their opinions about the rights of the LGB community and if they should be allowed to assemble freely and gain access to public services (i.e. whether they agreed, disagreed, or were neutral). Findings revealed that majority of Nigerians (81 percent) do NOT believe homosexuals should have the same rights as other Nigerians, however 15 percent believe homosexuals should have equal rights as other Nigerians. Another question on whether homosexuals should have rights to access public services revealed that  majority (66 percent) of Nigerians disagree that homosexuals be given rights to access public services such as healthcare, whereas 3 in 10 Nigerians (30 percent) agree that homosexuals be granted these rights to access public services such as healthcare, housing and education.

An overwhelming majority (95 percent) of adult Nigerians believe homosexuals should NOT be allowed to get married. Furthermore, a majority (90 percent) also believe homosexuals should NOT be able to meet together as homosexuals, or set-up organizations. Interestingly, the results also show 62 percent of adult Nigerians expressed intolerance towards homosexuals, whereas only 28 percent expressed tolerance towards them, with 10 percent being neutral.

A majority of Nigerians (90 percent) agree with the notion that Nigeria would be a better country without homosexuals, only 6 percent disagree, while 4 percent were indifferent. In the same vein, 87 percent of adult Nigerians support the notion of having homosexuals imprisoned for 14 years for having a relationship with the same sex. Only 10 percent of the adult population disagrees, and 3 percent are indifferent.

The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Law prohibits same sex marriage in  Nigeria and makes it punishable by 14 years in prison, and also makes homosexuals who assemble together punishable by  10 years in prison. To measure the support of Nigerians for this law, respondents were asked: To what extent do you support or oppose the ‘Anti-Same Sex law’ that bans gay marriage and makes it punishable by 14 years in prison and also makes homosexual assembling punishable by ten years in prison? Respondents were asked to rate their support for the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Law on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 = I strongly oppose, and 5 = I strongly support. Findings revealed that the majority (75 percent) of the respondents indicated strong support, while 12 percent indicated support for the law.

The findings from this poll were trended from a similar survey conducted in June 2013, and even then the results revealed that support for the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Legislation was very high (92 percent); Although this figure represents a 5-point decline in the support of Nigerians for the law in 2015 (87 percent), from 2013.

In conclusion, Nigerians do not support marital rights for the LGB community, however they are slightly in support of some socio-economic rights, as 3 in 10 Nigerians (30 percent) believe they should be given equal rights to access public services such as healthcare, housing and education. More findings from the poll revealed that majority of adult Nigerians (87 percent) support the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Law, and this has remained so even before it’s passing in early 2014 (based on a survey NOIPolls conducted in June 2013). In addition, most Nigerians (87 percent) are not willing to accept a family member who is homosexual; moreover, a larger proportion of Nigerians (90 percent) do not think people are born homosexual, suggesting that it is an orientation that is acquired through life's experience. Finally, majority (81 percent) of Nigerians do not believe homosexuals should have the same rights as other Nigerians.

Survey Methods

The opinion poll was conducted in May 2015. It involved telephone interviews of a random nationwide sample. 1,000 randomly selected phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above, representing the six geopolitical zones in the country, were interviewed. With a sample of this size, we can say with 95 percent confidence that the results obtained are statistically precise - within a range of plus or minus 3 percent.

 

About NOIPolls

NOIPolls Limited, No1 for country specific polling services in West Africa. We conduct periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria. More information is available at www.noi-polls.com

About The Initiative for Equal Rights

The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs) is a Nigeria-based registered non-profit organization that works to protect and promote the human rights of sexual minorities nationally and regionally. It was founded in 2006 as a response to the discrimination and marginalization of sexual minorities observed in HIV prevention and human rights work.

About The Bisi Alimi Foundation

The Bisi Alimi Foundation is a non for profit organization to provide unbiased information, education, training and development projects with a focus on sexuality and gender in Nigeria. The aim of the foundation is to build a wealth of knowledge through education, training and community engagement as a means of reducing homophobia in Nigeria.

Disclaimer

This press release has been produced by NOIPolls Limited to provide information on all issues which form the subject matter of the document. Kindly note that while we are willing to share results from our polls with the general public, we only request that NOIPolls be acknowledged as author whenever and wherever our poll results are used, cited or published.

NOIPolls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect its views of respondents surveyed for the poll, and background information is based on information from various sources that it believes are reliable; however, no representation is made that it is accurate or complete. Whilst reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, no responsibility or liability is accepted for errors or fact or for any views expressed herein by NOIPolls for actions taken as a result of information provided in this report. Any ratings, forecasts, estimates, opinions or views herein constitute a judgment as at the date of this document. If the date of this document is not current, the views and content may not reflect NOIPolls’ current findings and/or thinking.

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[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/27/us/supreme-court-same-sex-marriage.html

[2] Nigeria passes law banning homosexuality http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/nigeria/10570304/Nigeria-passes-law-banning-homosexuality.html

[3] Soniyi, T. 2014. “Court throws out suit challenging legality of same sex Prohition Act” ThisDay http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/court-throws-out-suit-challenging-legality-of-same-sex-prohibition-act/192003/

[4] Abimboye, M. 2015. “Nigeria recorded 105 cases of right abuses against gays in 2014 – Group” Premium Times http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/more-news/183295-nigeria-recorded-105-cases-of-rights-abuses-against-gays-in-2014-group.html