The United States has no plans to cut funding for HIV/AIDS to Nigeria, Ambassador James Entwistle has confirmed, adding however that country’s anti-gay law was a ‘worrisome precedent.’
President Goodluck Jonathan had earlier in the month signed the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, under which officials were given permission to hand down jail sentences from five to 14 years to gay people, gay organisations, same-sex couples entering into marriage, gay marriage guests or people, who know others to be gay.
Speaking, yesterday, at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters in Abuja, Entwistle said the US would not cut funding to Nigeria over the new anti-gay law.
“Absolutely not,” Entwistle replied when asked if aids would be cut, adding, “But we have to look at it very carefully and make sure that everything we do is in compliance with the new law.
“As you know, we put millions of dollars in the fight against HIV/AIDS. And again, I am not a lawyer; I read the law and it seems to me that it may put some restrictions on what we can do to help fight HIV/AIDS in this country.
“These are the issues we are looking at as we look at the law.”
The ambassador also spoke on his own country’s anti-gay laws, saying: “The issue of same-sex marriage is very controversial all over the world, including my country where 17 states out of 50 have considered it. Some are saying it is not legal.’
“The issue that we see and I am speaking as a friend of Nigeria, it looks to me that it puts significant restrictions in the freedom of assembly and freedom of expression and, in my opinion, especially in advanced democracies, once a government begins to say something in these areas, freedom no longer applies. It seems to me that such is a very worrisome precedent.”