Despite its recognition as a human right under international law, sexual right is one of the most contested rights in patriarchal and complex societies where cultural and religious values interweave with the legal system. In Nigeria, some stakeholders opposed recognising the right due to its inconsistency with the dominant cultural and religious values. The steep opposition culminated in adopting the Same-sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act. Through structured interviews, literature and content review, this article investigates the legal status of sexual rights in Nigeria, sexuality education and probes some selected stakeholders' perceptions of the concept to ascertain whether the opposition was based on a complete understanding. The findings reveal the existence of laws both in support of and those against sexual rights realisation; the impact of cultural taboos on sexuality education; the limited perception of the sexual rights concept by the respondents in the study; and that not all components of sexual rights are inconsistent with the dominant cultural and religious beliefs and values.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Data used in this article are available on Mendeley data.
Abd al’Ati, H. (1982). The Family Structure in Islam. Islamic Publications Bureau.
Abogunrin, S. O. (1989). Ethics in Yoruba Religious Tradition, in Crawford, S. C. (Ed.) World Religions and Global Ethics. Paragon House Publishers.
Adegbola, O., & Babatola, O. (1999). Premarital and Extramarital Sex in Lagos, Nigeria. In I. O. Orubuloye, J. C. Caldwell, & J. P. M. Ntozi (Eds.), The continuing HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa: Responses and coping strategies (pp. 19–44). Health Transition Center.
Ademola, K. (2003). Source of Sexual Knowledge among Nigerian Youth. Studies in Humanities, 2, 13–19.
Advocates for Youth (2016). Young LGBTIQ Africans: Survey Findings on Needs, Challenges and Priorities. Retrieved November 5, 2021. https://www.advocatesforyouth.org/resources/fact-sheets/young-lgbtiq-africans-survey-findings-on-needs-challenges-and-priorities-2/.
Araoye, M., & Fakeye, O. O. (1998). Sexuality and contraception among Nigerian Adolescents and Youth. African Journal of Reproductive Health, 2, 142–150.
Balarabe, K. (2019). Realising the Right to Water and Sanitation in Nigeria: A Human Rights-Based-Ecosystem Approach. Intersentia.
BBC. (30 June, 2015). Nigeria Poll Suggests 87% Oppose Gay Rights. Retrieved June 19, 2021. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-33325899
Brown, A. (2009). The latest hate speech from the Church of Nigeria. The Guardian March 13, 2009.
CESCR. (1990). General Comment No. 3: The Nature of States Parties’ Obligations (Art. 2, Para. 1 of the Covenant).
CESCR. (2000). General Comment No. 14: The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health (Art. 12).
Crabtree, S. (2010). Religiosity Highest in World's Poorest Nations. (Gallup, 2010). Retrieved June 1, 2021. http://www.gallup.com/poll/142727/religiosity-highest-world-poorest-nations.aspx
CRC. (2003). General Comment No. 3: HIV/AIDS and the Rights of the Child. CRC/GC/2003/3, March 2003.
Crichton, J., Nyamu-Musembi, C., John-Langba, J., & Theobald, S. (2006). Sexual and reproductive health rights in Africa. Lancet, 367(9528), 2043–2045.
Cunningham, L. S and Kelsay, J. (2012). Sacred quest, The: An invitation to the study of religion (6th ed). Pearson
Dada, J. A. (2012). Impediments to Human Rights Protection in Nigeria. Annual Survey of International & Comparative Law, 18(1).
Erhabor, F. (2004). Pentecostal Movement and Adolescent Sexuality in Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria. Ile-Ife: unpublished M. Sc. thesis.
Everitt, B. S., & Skrondal, A. (2010). The Cambridge Dictionary of Statistics (4th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Esiet, U. E., Adebajo, C. O., Bello, M. B., et al. (2004). Nigeria. In R. T. Francoeur & R. J. Noonan (Eds.), The continuum complete international encylopedia of sexuality (pp. 752–780). The Continuum International Publishing Group.
Falola, T. (2001). Culture and customs of Nigeria. Greenwood Publishing Group.
Feyisetan, B., & Pebley, A. R. (1989). Premarital sexuality in urban Nigeria. Studies in Family Planning, 20(6), 343–354.
Fog, A. (1999). Cultural selection. Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Francoeur, R. T., Esiet, U., & Esiet, N. (2000). Ethnic views of sexuality in Nigeria. SIECUS Report, 28(4), 8–12.
Freeman, R. E. (1984). Strategic management: A stakeholder approach. Pitman.
Gaur, V. (2013). Understand your stakeholders. International Journal of Advancements in Research & Technology, 2(1), 1–8.
Goethals, G. W. (1978). Factors affecting permissive and nonpermissive rules regarding premarital sex. H. James, & S. Edward. The Sociology of Sex. Schocken Books.
Hancock, E. (2017). The 25 Most Conservative, Intolerant, and Polluted Countries in the World. Business Insider. Retrieved June 10, 2021. https://www.businessinsider.nl/the-most-conservative-countries-in-the-world-2017-1/
Hassan, M. (1952). A Chronicle of Abuja. Ibadan University Press.
Heard, A. (1997). Human Rights: Chimeras in Sheep’s Clothing? Retrieved June 13, 20121. http://www.sfu.ca/~aheard/intro.html
HRC (2011). General Comment No. 34: Article 19: Freedoms of Opinion and Expression. Adopted at the 102nd Session Geneva, 11–29 July 2011.
Human Rights Watch. (2016). Tell Me Where I Can Be Safe: The Impact of Nigeria’s Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act. Retrieved May 13 2021. https://www.hrw.org/report/2016/10/20/tell-me-where-i-can-be-safe/impact-nigerias-same-sex-marriage-prohibition-act
Ikpe, E. B. (2004). Human Sexuality in Nigeria: A Historical Perspective. African Regional Sexuality Resource Centre: Understanding Human Sexuality Seminar Series 2.
IWHC. Sexual Rights are Human Rights. Retrieved March 6, 2021. https://iwhc.org/articles/sexual-rights-human-rights/
Izugbara, C. O. (2004). Patriarchal Ideology and Discourses of Sexuality in Nigeria. African Regional Sexuality Resource Centre: Understanding Human Sexuality Seminar Series 2.
Izugbara, C. O. (2008). Home-Based Sexuality Education: Nigerian Parents Discussing Sex with their Children. Youth & Society, 39(4), 575–600.
Jensen, S. L. B., Lagoutte, S., & Lorion, S. (2019). The Domestic Institutionalisation of Human Rights: An Introduction. Nordic Journal of Human Rights, 37(3), 165–176.
Kunnuji, M. O. N., Robinson, R. S., Shawar, Y. R., & Shiffman, J. (2017). Variable Implementation of Sexuality Education in Three Nigerian States. Studies in Family Planning, 48(4), 359–372.
Kayode, J. O. (1986). African Ethics on Sex. In S. O. Abogunrin. Religion and Ethics in Nigeria. DayStar Press.
Kirby, D. (2002). The Impact of Schools and Schools Programs on Adolescent Sexual Behaviour. Journal of Sex Research, 39(1), 2733.
Kirby, D. (2007). Sex and HIV Programs; Their Impact on Sexual Behaviors of Young People throughout the World. J. Adolesc Health 40.
Kumuyi, W.F. (1988). Complete Bible Study Series in One Volume, (3rd ed). Publishing and Printing Company Limited.
Lazarus J.V., H. Sihvonen-Riemenschneider, U. Laukamm-Josten, and J. Wong F, Liljestrand. (2010). Systematic Review of Interventions to Prevent the Spread of Sexually Transmitted Infections, including HIV among Young People in Europe. Croat Med J. 51(1).
Makinde, O. A., & Adebayo, A. M. (2020). Knowledge and Perception of Sexual and Reproductive Rights among Married Women in Nigeria. Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters, 28(1), 277–290.
Mitchell, R., Agle, B., & Wood, D. (1997). Toward a Theory of Stakeholder Identification and Salience: Defining the Principle of Who and What Really Counts. The Academy of Management Review, 22(4), 853–886.
Morris, R. (2005). Research and Evaluation in Sexuality Education: An Allegorical Exploration of Complexities and Possibilities. Sex Educ., 5(4), 405–422.
Mukhtar, A.A. (1996). Human Rights and Islamic Law: the development of the rights of slaves, women and aliens in two cultures, unpublished PhD thesis, University of Manchester.
Nwauche, E. S. (2008). Law, Religion and Human Rights in Nigeria. African Human Rights Law Journal, 8, 568–595.
Nzwili, F. (2014). Nigeria’s Religious Leaders Welcome Controversial Anti-Gay Law. The Washington Post. Retrieved June 15, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/nigerias-religious-leaders-welcome-controversial-anti-gay-law/2014/01/16/12485d88-7ef7-11e3-97d3-b9925ce2c57b_story.html
Ogunsakin-Fabarebo, S. I. (1998). Contemporary Theories of Magic: Magun’s Disparate Characteristics. Orita: Ibadan Journal of Religious Studies 30(1/2).
Ojo, M. A. (2003). The View from Lagos. Religion in the News 6(3). Retrieved June 17, 2021. http://www2.trincoll.edu/csrpl/RINVol6No3/viewfromlagos.doc.htm
Ojo, M. A. (2005). Religion and Sexuality: Individuality, Choice and Sexual Rights in Nigerian Christianity. Africa Regional Sexuality Resource Centre, 9 June 2005: Understanding Human Sexuality Seminar Series 4.
Olu, A.D. and J.K Ayantayo. (2005). Sexuality and Spirituality: Possible Bedmates in the Religious Terrain in Contemporary Nigeria. Africa Regional Sexuality Resource Centre, 9 June 2005: Understanding Human Sexuality Seminar Series 4.
Owoh, U. (2021). Meet 7 Activists Fighting to Improve LGBT+ Rights Across Africa. Vogue. Retrieved October 29, 2021. https://www.vogue.com/article/meet-7-activists-fighting-to-improve-lgbtq-rights-across-africa
Pegg, S. (2009). Nigeria. In Encyclopedia of Human Rights vol. 4, edited by Forsythe, D. P. New York: Oxford University Press USA.
Pew Research Center. (2007). “World Publics Welcome Global Trade – But not Immigration: 47-Nation Pew Global Attitudes Survey.” Retrieved June 8, 2021. https://web.archive.org/web/20100214225525/http://pewglobal.org/reports/pdf/258.pdf
Rakhetsi, A. (2021). 10 Amazing African LGBTQ+ Activists You Need to Know. Global Citizen. Retrieved October 29, 2021. https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/African-lgbtq-activists-who-changed-africa/.
SIECUS. (2000a). Approval of ‘Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education in Nigerian Schools. Making the Connection, 1(1), 1–2.
SIECUS (2000b). Developing Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education. Retrieved November 4, 2021. https://siecus.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/intl_guidelines.pdf.
Somefun, O. D. (2019). Religiosity and Sexual Abstinence among Nigerian Youths: Does Parent Religion Matter? BMC Public Health 19.
UNESCO. (2009). International Technical Guidance on Sexuality. UNESCO.
UNHCHR. (2012) The Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights: An Interpretive Guide. United Nations
WHO. (2006). “Defining Sexual Health: Report of a Technical Consultation on Sexual Health, 28–31 January 2002, Geneva. Geneva: World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/gender_rights/defining_sexual_health.pdf
WHO. (2015). Sexual Health, Human Rights and the Law. WHO.
World Bank (2020). Literacy Rate, Adult Total (% of people ages 15 and above) – Nigeria. Retrieved June 15, 2021. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.ADT.LITR.ZS?locations=NG
Nezianya v. Okagbue (1963) All NLR 352 S.C
Onwuchekwa v. Onwuchekwa (1991) 5 NWLR (Part 194) 739
The author has no relevant financial or non-financial interests to disclose.
Conflict of interest
The author has no potential conflict of interest to declare.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Balarabe, K. The Legal Status and Perceptions of Sexual Rights Among Some Selected Stakeholders in Nigeria. Sexuality & Culture 26, 1090–1114 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-021-09933-7