Page last updated at 16:24 GMT, Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Lib Dem peer calls for asylum change for gay Nigerian men

A Liberal Democrat peer has called on the government to amend asylum laws to allow gay men in Nigeria a right of appeal after they are refused an application of asylum to the UK.

Lord Avebury was speaking during oral questions in the House of Lords on 9 January 2013.

Politicians in Nigeria are currently considering a bill which would ban same-sex marriage in the country, and anyone getting married in such circumstances would face a 15 year prison sentence.

Lord Avebury asked whether the government would consider amending section 94 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act to provide that gay men from Nigeria had an "in-country right of appeal" against refusal of an asylum application.

The Lib Dem peer went on to explain that such a right already exists for gay women in the west African country.

The original question was tabled by Conservative peer Lord Lexden, who wanted to know what pressure the UK government was putting on the governments of Uganda and Nigeria about legislation regarding the treatment of homosexuals in those countries.

Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi said the government took the issue of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights "very seriously indeed" and said the matter had been raised "publicly and privately" by the prime minister and the foreign secretary.

The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, Rt Rev John Packer, called on the government to consult with the incoming Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby on the issue.

He said the Church of England had "very considerable experience" in relating to the situations in Nigeria and Uganda, as well as challenging their human rights records.

Peers also put questions to government ministers on Britain's Arab community, tax havens and the EU and the sentencing of opposition activists in Bahrain.

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