I support Gay Rights – Reuben Abati (Exclusive)

In a symposium organised by the ‘The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERS) on 14th December 2016, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Reuben Abati, used words like ‘liberal’, when he talked about the rights of the LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Trans-sexual, Queer, Inter-sex) community in Nigeria.

The symposium was organised to discuss ‘Human Rights, Sexuality and the Law’, but the main focus was on the rights of the gay community in Nigeria, and Reuben Abati, a member of the Goodluck Jonathan administration made some controversial statements. 

Reuben Abati started by saying the ‘discuss on human rights (regardless of sexuality or gender), should be open and inclusive’.

On his earlier defence of the anti-gay law during the administration in which he was the President’s chief spokesperson, he said, "I was speaking as a government official, trying to explain the position of the government – when the gay law was passed”. In other words, he denied any support for the law. 

In addition to that he said there were contradictions in the SSMPA bill, as it is ‘unfortunately’ a reflection of an outdated culture and religious sentiments. 

His words:

"Part of the problem of human rights has to do with ignorance, failure of institutions (police brutality), religion, and of course culture".

"Advocacy for human rights should cover anything that has to do with the human person", he continued. 

"We should continue to insist on human freedom, regardless of sex or sexuality".

At the end of the symposium, a ‘Human Rights Violations Report’ was launched and Reuben Abati was asked to review the research, so we await his review. 

Popular OAP, Osi Suave was also there to support the need to promote human rights, notwithstanding whether the individual(s) is a member of the LGBTQI community or not.

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