The City Council voted unanimously to denounce the persecution of gays who want to marry in the Republic of Nigeria, Councilmember Bill Rosendahl said in a press release today.
Two weeks ago, the Nigerian Senate passed an anti-gay marriage bill that would bring the discrimination and persecution of gays in the country to new heights. The law seeks to ban same-sex marriages by making such unions a criminal offense. Under this law, gay couples who marry in Nigeria would face anywhere from 10-14 years in prison.
According to reports, the Nigerian law targets more than the rights of gay marriage; it would make gay advocacy groups illegal and same sex public displays of affection a criminal offense.
“This Nigerian bill is more than an attempt to deny gay marriages,” said Rosendahl. “It sets the stage for the state-sponsored persecution of homosexuality. It labels them criminals and threatens their supporters with jail time.”
Through a resolution filed last week, Rosendahl asked his colleagues –and the City of Los Angeles– to recognize and strongly stand for the rights of all oppressed members of society and believe in the support of equal rights for all people.
Three leaders from LA’s lesbian, gay, transgender and bi-sexual community joined Rosendahl during council in a show of solidarity on the issue; Ally Bolour, former board member of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission; Steve Simon, AIDS Coordinator for the City of Los Angeles; and Eileen Ma, Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Islander Equality Los Angeles.
“This resolution does matter,” said Bolour. “It provides a glimmer of hope for people over there that somebody else cares about them, knows about them, and does something about them.”
“The United States taxpayer has paid over $2 million over the last seven years to support HIV prevention treatment and care in Nigeria,” said Simon who continued to say we have an invested interest in the Nigerian law. “If this law passes, it will damage our efforts internationally and this will trickle down and affect us.”
“This puts the City of Los Angeles on the right side of history,” said Ma. “This is an important step to show that we have an important role to play in this Country to support human and LGBT rights in other Countries.
Councilman Bill Rosendahl has represented the 11th District since July of 2005. Besides being a voice for the Westside in City Government, he’s also openly gay and a champion for LGBT issues on the City Council.