In a direct and highly negative response to President Obama’s memorandum and Secretary Clinton’s announcement that the U.S. will consider a country’s Gay Rights record when foreign aid is requested, Nigeria’s House has passed an even more vicious version of the anti-gay bill recently passed by their Senate. Nigerian Lawmaker Zakari Mohammed pulled no punches:
We have a culture. We have religious beliefs and we have a tradition. We are black people. We are not white. [Same-sex marriage] is alien to our culture and we can never give it a chance. So if [Western nations] will hold their aid to us, to hell with them.
Nigerian Information Minister Labaran Maku elaborated further:
[W]e reserve the right to make our laws without apologies to other countries..
Some of the things that are considered fundamental rights abroad … can be very offensive to African culture.
With all due respect to Nigerian sovereignty, Minister Maku is speaking foolishly on both counts.
Never, in all of world history, has a nation made laws in a vacuum. If the U.S. wants to withhold aid, trade or diplomatic resources because of Nigeria’s human rights violations, we are perfectly within our rights (and in the right) to do so.
Furthermore, matters of human rights are the concern of every nation in the global village. “Culture” is not, and will never be, an excuse for human rights violations.