By Melanie Nathan, March 05, 2013
According to reports the chair of the Nigeria Women Football League, member of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) executive committee, Dilichukwu Onyedinma, has announced that “lesbianism is now officially banned from Nigerian football (soccer).”
Onyedinma was quoted by Nigerian media as saying players who were found to be in contravention of this ruling would be dismissed, disqualified and barred from representing Nigeria. The report notes Onyedinma saying:-
“We will call the club chairmen to control their players, and such players will not be able to play for the national team. The governing body will work with clubs to stop the practice. It (lesbianism) is happening but we have to talk to the clubs, and look inside the clubs and these things have to do with clubs. There are particular clubs that don’t even want to hear about it and once they heard it the players involved will be sacked”
The report also noted:
In June 2011, Nigerian football coach Eucharia Uche, the former (NFF) technical assistant, ‘Sir’ James Peters, and the NFF’s chief media officer, Ademola Olajire, reportedly boasted of driving lesbians out of the women’s team. ‘Sir James’ said: “When I was drafted to work with the Falcons last year, I decamped some of the players, not because they were not good players, but because they were lesbians.” In comments Uche later denied making, she was reported as saying, “We have seen the result of our efforts and I can tell you that lesbianism is now a thing of the past in the camp of the Super Falcons.”
At that time FIFA’s head of women’s competitions, Tatjana Haenni, said that “FIFA is against all forms of discrimination”, and that FIFA would be “talking to Uche” about her comments and reminding the coach of the governing bodies statutes.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Nigeria face unique legal and social challenges nand extreme homophobia. The country’s record on human rights, including LGBT rights, is very poor. There is no legal protection against discrimination in Nigeria — a largely conservative country of more than 170 million people,split between a mainly Muslim north and a largely Christian south. Very few LGBT persons are open about their orientation, and violence against LGBT people is frequent.
Both male and female same-gender sexual activity is illegal in Nigeria and can carry the death penalty in some provinces. The maximum punishment in the twelve northern states that have adopted Shari’a law is death by stoning. That law applies to all Muslims and to those who have voluntarily consented to application of the Shari’a courts. In southern Nigeria and under the secular criminal laws of northern Nigeria, the maximum punishment for same-sex sexual activity is 14 years’ imprisonment. Legislation is pending to criminalize same-sex marriage throughout the country.