ABSTRACT

Nigeria is one of many countries in Africa that criminalize same-sex relations, and this has been reinforced by law enforcement agencies and the courts. As part of efforts to protect LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) persons from various forms of discrimination and violence, the growing LGBTQ movement sometimes approaches the court for rights enforcement. There is a dearth of cases specifically focused on lesbian rights except for a 2018 case, Pamela Adie v. Corporate Affairs Commission. This limits empirical evidence for assessing the role of the courts but also strengthens the case for an enquiry into how the courts can protect lesbians in Nigeria against discrimination on the grounds of their sexual identity. This chapter analyzes how intersecting categories of gender, sexual orientation, class, and location affect lesbians’ experiences of discrimination. It also explores impediments in laws and the formal justice system that result in discrimination, thereby affecting access to justice. The analysis reveals opportunities for the courts to adopt a proactive approach to interpreting fundamental rights guarantees in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999. Pragmatic recommendations are made for a multi-stakeholder approach and cross-jurisdictional learning.