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Joe Biden has issued a presidential memorandum aimed at expanding protection of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer and intersex (LGBTQI) people worldwide, including potentially through the use of financial sanctions.
The Nigeria’s anti-gay laws have been increasingly criticised by global rights groups, which have categorised the country as overtly homophobic.
Despite international pressure, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan signed the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act in January 2014, prescribing between 10 to 14 years in prison for cohabitation between same-sex sexual partners, public show of same-sex relationship, registration, operation or participation in gay clubs, societies and organisation, amongst others.
As a predominantly conservative country, it is unlikely that Nigeria would revisit its anti-gay marriage law to strengthen bilateral relations with the United States.
However, the Biden Presidency threatens” “swift and meaningful” responses, including financial sanctions against countries found guilty of human rights abuses of LGBTQI+ persons.
The memo warned: “When foreign governments move to restrict the rights of LGBTQI+ persons or fail to enforce legal protections in place, thereby contributing to a climate of intolerance, agencies engaged abroad shall consider appropriate responses, including using the full range of diplomatic and assistance tools and, as appropriate, financial sanctions, visa restrictions, and other actions.”
“All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are or whom they love,” said the memorandum, building on a 2011 directive issued when Biden was serving as vice president.
“The United States belongs at the forefront of this struggle – speaking out and standing strong for our most dearly held values.”