Lawmakers Are Trying to Jail Cross-Dressers in Nigeria

April 8, 2022

Nigerian lawmakers are not exactly famous for their ability to focus on the most important things. Citizens could be worrying about the unemployment rate, inflation rate, poverty and escalating insecurity, but lawmakers would rather focus on who is allowed to wear what. And that’s exactly what’s currently happening.

Lawmakers Are Trying to Jail Cross-Dressers in Nigeria

The House of Representatives on April 5th 2022 introduced a bill to ban cross-dressing in Nigeria. The bill defines cross-dressing as the practice of wearing clothes usually worn by a person of the opposite sex.

Lawmakers Are Trying to Jail Cross-Dressers in Nigeria

Something like this.

Who’s sponsoring this bill?

The cross-dresser bill is sponsored by Muda Lawal Umar

Muda Lawal Umar is trying to jail cross-dressers in Nigeria

This guy.

Umar is 36 years old and one of the youngest lawmakers in the National Assembly. He represents Toro Federal Constituency of Bauchi State and is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC). 

Umar has been a busy man recently; he’s pushed motions like bringing coins back into the Nigerian economy and sponsored a bill seeking to allow the foreign husbands of Nigerian women acquire citizenship.

You may also remember him as the guy who was exposed for using fake pictures as proof of his community project. The project? Digging for well water.

What’s in the cross-dresser bill?

The full name of the bill is “A Bill for an Act to Amend Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2013 to Prohibit Cross-Dressing and for Related Matters”. The bill is trying to amend the controversial anti-gay law that was signed by former Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, in 2014. 

Umar’s bill prevents Nigerians from cross-dressing in public. Even when someone cross-dresses in private, displaying it in public would also be a violation of this proposed law. The only time anyone would be allowed to cross-dress in Nigeria is when it’s done solely for the sake of what the bill calls “any bona fide public entertainment”. Does that mean you can cross-dress for Instagram skits? Or for Friday night karaoke? Are those bona fide enough? Nobody knows for sure just yet.

If this bill becomes law, anyone found guilty by a court can be jailed for six months or fined ₦500,000.

Is the cross-dresser bill a good idea?

The bill is an attack on the freedom of expression and would be primarily enforced by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF). That should be enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine about the potential damage if this bill becomes law.

Senators are also working on a bill to establish a National Agency for Ethics, Values and Integrity Compliance. If that bill is passed, the agency would be responsible for things like “developing and enforcing ethical standards for Nigerians”. You can expect cross-dressing is the kind of thing this agency would concern itself with.

ALSO READ: Old WAI, New Bottle — Senators Are Bringing Back Buhari’s War Against Indiscipline

How long before the cross-dresser bill becomes law?

There’s still a long way to go before this bill becomes law. What happened on April 5th 2022 was a first reading of the bill. A first reading is merely an introduction of the bill. There’ll be a second reading at a time determined by the legislative chamber. 

During that second reading, lawmakers will discuss the purpose of the bill, its objectives, benefits and general principles. The bill can be passed or rejected at this stage. 

If the bill is passed, it’ll go to a committee for further legislative action which will include a public hearing. It’ll then be returned to the chamber for a third reading and final consideration. The bill can still be rejected at this stage. 

If passed, the bill will become law if it’s signed by the president.

ALSO READ: How Is a Law Passed in Nigeria?

What can Nigerians do?

The cross-dresser bill can be withdrawn by the sponsor, Muda Lawal Umar, whenever it’s brought up for a second reading. As a public servant, Nigerians can tell him how they feel about the bill by emailing him at umaramour@yahoo.com. He’s also on Twitter

If he doesn’t withdraw the bill, it’ll be up to other representatives in the chamber to vote against it during the second reading. You can contact your representatives here.

If the bill passes second reading, then it’ll be subjected to a public hearing which members of the public can attend to make their feelings known about the bill’s content and implications.

Their contributions will be considered before the committee presents a report back to other lawmakers for a third reading. Again, you can contact your representatives here before a final vote is cast on the bill.

ALSO READ: 5 Nigerians Laws That Shouldn’t Exist

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