Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria's minister
of finance, has asked the West to withhold its judgment on a recently
approved anti-gay law.
In January it was announced that
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan had signed a law that prohibits
the state from recognizing the relationships of gay couples, mandates
a 14-year prison sentence for anyone who enter a same-sex marriage or
civil union, prohibits the public promotion of gay rights and outlaws
gay clubs and organizations.
Appearing on CNN's Fareed Zakaria
GPS, host Fareed Zakaria asked Okonjo-Iweala about the law.
“This seems an assault on a
minority's rights,” Zakaria said. “It also seems an assault on
free speech. Why is Nigeria doing this?”
In the United States “it took 40 to
50 years or more on the conversation of, you know, gay community to
get where the U.S. is,” Okonjo-Iweala responded.
“I think we need a conversation in
the country. We need revolution. Ninety-six percent of people, you
know, support these laws. But I think we need to unpack the laws for
them to see between being a gay person and same-sex marriage, because
the two are confounded in people's minds. And there's a strong
sentiment against same-sex marriage, just as you had here before, and
it's still evolving.”
“I think it's a question of
conversation, discussion, evolution, education and engagement over
time. Just as happened in this country and in Europe. It's not
something that happened overnight.”
“So, I would say withhold judgment.
And, you know, let us work on this,” she added.