Baird slams Nigeria over proposed anti-gay law
Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird speaks about Syria during question period in the House of Commons in Ottawa Wednesday, November 16, 2011.
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, December 1, 2011 7:04AM EST
OTTAWA - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is speaking out against Nigeria over a proposed anti-gay law.
He says legislation being considered in Nigeria would disregard basic human rights.
The country's Senate has approved a bill which would further toughen Nigerian anti-gay laws and make same-sex marriages punishable by 14 years in jail.
It also targets those who support or even witness such unions or those who form gay-rights groups.
Baird says Nigeria should ensure equal basic rights for all its citizens.
At the October Commonwealth conference in Australia, Canada was part of a failed effort to persuade member states to rescind anti-gay laws.
Baird says Canada will keep trying, even though 41 of the group's 54 member countries have anti-gay laws.
He said governments have a duty to all citizens.
"The government of Nigeria must protect all Nigerians, regardless of sexual orientation," he said.
"Through the Commonwealth and other forums, Canada will continue to make this point in the most forceful of terms."
Many Third World countries maintain tough anti-gay laws and condemn western efforts to change their views.