Who We are
Together for Rights and Sustainable Development Initiative - THREAD, is a Human Rights Organization dedicated to the protection and advancement of the Rights of socially and economically marginalized communities and promoting access to social justice for economically marginalized communities, and sexual minorities in Nigeria and the organization is based in Lagos Nigeria.
Nigeria does not allow or recognize LGBT, and there is no legal protection for LGBT individuals. Violence against LGBT people is frequent and rampant across both the predominantly Muslims Northern and the predominantly Christian south.
Against this backdrop; Together for Rights and Sustainable Development Initiative -THREAD, was founded in May 2017, as a platform to galvanize, capacitate, and mobilize LGBT people and gay rights activists in Nigeria to decriminalize LGBT people and same-sex relationships in Nigeria. The group was founded as a platform that will work locally within the Nigerian society to change public attitudes and perception of gay people and same-sex relationships, and to effectively challenge and upturn all oppressive and discriminatory laws against gay people in Nigeria by leveraging on provisions of the Nigerian Constitution which guarantees all citizens equal rights (Section 17(2)(a)) as well as other rights, including adequate medical and health care (Section 17(3)(d)) and equal opportunity in the workplace (Section 17(3)(a)).
The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act was signed into law in January 2014. The law prescribes penalties of up to 14 years in prison for any person who marries a member of the same-sex, and bans gay marriage, same-sex “amorous relationships”. According to the law; “Any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison.”
THREAD has taken on the primary responsibility of galvanizing and mobilizing the human rights community, civil society groups and actors, gay rights activists, and human rights activists in Nigeria to sensitize the public on gay rights as an integral component of fundamental human rights enshrined in and protected by the Nigerian constitution, and to launch a legal challenge to the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, to upturn the Act through a repeal of the Act by the court in Nigeria.
THREAD is led by a Board of Trustees made of members of the organization. The Board of Trustees is elected from the membership of THREAD, and is the apex decision making body of the organization. The Board appoints a National Director who is the Chief Executive Officer of the organization. The National Director employs other executive officers, and engages volunteers for our projects who serve as temporary project officers. The National Director is the only Executive officer in the Board of Trustees. The National Director, the General Secretary, the Program Director, the Director of Communications, and the Finance Officer make up the Executive Board of the Organization and are responsible for the day to day running of the organization.
THREAD was founded in May 2017, as a platform to galvanize, capacitate, and mobilize LGBT people and gay rights activists in Nigeria to decriminalize LGBT people and same-sex relationships in Nigeria. The group was founded as a platform that will work locally within the Nigerian society to change public attitudes and perception of gay people and same-sex relationships, and to effectively challenge and upturn all oppressive and discriminatory laws against gay people in Nigeria by leveraging on provisions of the Nigerian Constitution which guarantees all citizens equal rights, as well as other rights, including adequate medical and health care, and equal opportunity in the workplace.
Besides the primary mission of upturning the Nigerian Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill and other oppressive and anti-same sex relation relationship laws in Nigeria, THREAD was founded with the Mission of promoting access to social justice, equal rights and equal opportunities for LGBT people across Nigeria, promoting access to Sexual Reproductive Health Rights for LGBT people in Nigeria, and to dispel all negative perception and cultural taboos around gay people -which is the basis of violence against gay people in Nigeria- through social networking, community sensitization outreach initiatives, cultural re-orientation (with a rights based approach) and direct engagements with religious leaders and community leaders to sensitize them on the inalienable rights of Nigerians as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which as a ground rule covers the rights LGBT people in Nigeria. Thus getting them to appreciate the fact that the Constitution of Nigeria confers equal rights on all Nigerian, and getting the community and religious leaders to appreciate the fact they have no right to condemn LGBT people or incite hatred and, or violence against LGBT people in Nigeria.
THREAD was founded with the Vision of achieving a society where the same-sex relationship and the identity of LGBT are decriminalized, and a society where LGBT people are accorded the same rights and privileges accessible to heterosexual people. THREAD works towards a vision of a Nigeria where the rights of LGBT people are protected by law, and LGBT people have access to social justice, equal opportunities, and equal access to Sexual Reproductive Health Rights, a country where same-sex relationship is not viewed as a taboo by the community, the community leaders, or religious leaders. THREAD has a Vision of a country where LGBT people can openly identify themselves and have the freedom and opportunity to fulfill their dreams and aspiration with fear, hindrance, or violence from any quarters.
Nigerian law provides for a 14-year prison sentence for homosexual acts involving either men or women. The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act of 2014 provides for prison sentences of 10 years for Nigerians belonging to a gay organization, supporting same-sex marriages, or displaying same-sex affection in public. It also calls for up to 14 years in prison for any Nigerian who marries a member of the same sex. Under existing Nigerian federal law, same-sex relationship is punishable by jail, but this Act legislates for a much broader crackdown on homosexuals and lesbians in Nigeria. Even as the LGBT communities in Nigeria already live a largely underground existence, public hostility to homosexual relations is widespread in Nigeria which is a conservative country.
Nigeria does not allow or recognize LGBT rights. There is no legal protection against discrimination in Nigeria. Very few LGBT persons are open about their sexual orientation, and violence against LGBT people is frequent. In 12 Nigerian states in the north, sharia law also applies. For homosexual activity, that law provides for capital punishment for men, lashing or imprisonment for women. The maximum punishment in the twelve northern states that have adopted Sharia law is stoning. That law applies to all Muslims and to those who have voluntarily consented to application of the Sharia 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. The Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act criminalizes all forms of same-sex unions and same-sex marriage throughout the country.
According to reports, the 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project, 97 percent of Nigerian residents believe that homosexuality is a way of life that society should not accept, which was the second-highest rate of non-acceptance in the 45 countries surveyed. By 2015 this percentage decreased to 87%. As of the same period the percentage of Nigerians who agree LGBT persons should receive education, healthcare, and housing is 30%. There is no enacted legislation protecting against discrimination or harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity. None of the political parties in Nigeria has formally endorsed LGBT rights
THREAD was founded by gay rights activists in Nigeria, in May 2017 as a counter measure to the state of gay rights in Nigeria, particularly as a platform to galvanize and enable the LGBT community and gay rights activists in Nigeria to offer legal and sexual reproductive healthcare assistance to gay people in Nigeria, and to champion the advancement of gay rights and civic space for gay people in Nigeria.
As a result of the passage of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act of year 2014, the registration process of THREAD was stalled with the Nigerian Corporate Affairs Commission, as this law outlaws the formation and operation gay clubs or groups dedicated to supporting and providing assistance to gay people. Presently THREAD works in conjunction with registered, sympathetic human rights NGO’s, and through these organizations THREAD obtains grant funds, and police permits for programs and demonstrations organized by the organization.
The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act of 2014 is merely an extension of the attitudes and perceptions of the Nigerian public towards LGBT people in Nigeria, thus it is in effect a codification of the discriminatory and oppressive attitudes of Nigerian towards the LGBT community, which has in effect criminalized every member of the LGBT community in Nigeria forcing the LGBT community to operate largely underground.
Our programs tackle these challenges through advocacy involving meeting and engaging with state actors, legislators, policy makers, judicial officers, community leaders, and religious leaders with the aim of changing their perspectives, and attitudes towards the LGBT community in Nigeria and building the social framework for the subsequent introduction of a Bill to Decriminalize Same Sex Relationship and Marriage in Nigeria, a Bill which THREAD aims to sponsor and present before the Nigeria National Assembly before end of year 2017.
We also tackle this challenge through community sensitization outreach and initiatives aimed at dispelling the myths and taboos on same-sex relationships, which is behind the negative perception and attitudes towards LGBT people in the communities across Nigeria, and through litigations.
The Core Programs of THREAD are Advocacy and Support Services to the LGBT community and gay rights activists in Nigeria. Our programs include engagements with state actors, legislators, policy makers, judicial officers, religious leaders, and community leaders. Our programs also include community outreach initiatives aimed at sensitizing the public and changing public perception of LGBT people and same-sex relationship. THREAD also anchors social media campaigns against criminalization of same-sex relationships, and the organization also operates a hotline for the LGBT community in Nigeria. Through this hotline the organization provides legal aid/ assistance for enforcement of fundamental human rights for LGBT people and gay rights activists who are victims of human rights abuse or violation of fundamental human rights.
THREAD is currently engaged in a campaign to upturn the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act of 2014, on the basis of unconstitutionality of the Act, and the fact that the law violates the fundament al human rights of LGBT people in Nigeria, and is incompatible with sections of the Nigerian Constitution which guarantees all citizens equal rights (Section 17(2)(a)) as well as other rights, including adequate medical and health care (Section 17(3)(d)) and equal opportunity in the workplace (Section 17(3)(a)).
Resources and Capacity
THREAD has a total of 6 members of Staff namely: the National Director, the General Secretary, the Program Director, the Director of Communications, the Finance Officer, and the Project Staff who works with the Program Director and Volunteers to implement our programs.
All the 6 members of Staff of the Organization constitute the Project Team of THREAD, and are involved in the execution of tasks and anchor activities involved in the implementation of projects undertaken by THREAD. The National Director and the General Secretary are paid full time staff of the organization while the Program Director, the Director of Communications, the Finance Officer, and the Project Staff are paid part time staff.
THREAD is primarily funded by membership dues paid by members, donations from members and individuals.
Our Strategies involve engagements with State actors, legislators, policy makers, judicial officers, religious leaders, and community leaders, class action litigation and litigation for enforcement of fundamental human rights, litigations against discrimination which contravenes sections of the Nigerian Constitution, peer to peer mentoring for the LGBT community in Nigeria, and community sensitization initiatives.