John M. Becker

Nigerian President Signs Appalling Anti-Gay Law

Filed By John M. Becker | January 13, 2014 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Africa, criminalization, criminalize homosexuality, Goodluck Jonathan, Jail the Gays Bill, Nigeria

goodluck-jonathan-nigeria.jpgThe Nigerian government confirmed today that President Goodluck Jonathan has signed a sweeping and draconian anti-gay bill into law that effectively criminalizes everything gay.

As we've reported here at the Bilerico Project, the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill makes it a crime for gay and lesbian Nigerians to wed, even outside the country. Same-sex couples who marry will be punished by up to 14 years in prison, and anyone who administers or witnesses a same-sex wedding -- including clergy, family, and wedding guests -- can also be jailed for up to 10 years.

It also goes far beyond marriage, imposing 10-year prison sentences for a host of activities including providing services for gay and lesbian couples, public displays of same-sex affection, and LGBT rights advocacy of any kind.

Nigeria's national assembly passed the bill in May of last year.

From Al Jazeera:

President Goodluck Jonathan's spokesman, Reuben Abatim said on Monday that the president signed the bill because it was consistent with the attitudes of most people towards homosexuality in the west African nation.

"I can confirm that the president has signed the bill into law," Abati said, without specifying a date but adding that it happened earlier this month.

"More than 90 percent of Nigerians are opposed to same-sex marriage. So, the law is in line with our cultural and religious beliefs as a people," he added.

"And I think that this law is made for a people and what [the] government has done is consistent with the preference of its environment."

Prior to passage of this law, gay sex was already a criminal offense in Nigeria, punishable by jail time.

The new law has already received widespread international condemnation. In a statement emailed to the Bilerico Project, Secretary of State John Kerry voiced the United States's strong disapproval:

The United States is deeply concerned by Nigeria's enactment of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act. Beyond even prohibiting same sex marriage, this law dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association, and expression for all Nigerians. Moreover, it is inconsistent with Nigeria's international legal obligations and undermines the democratic reforms and human rights protections enshrined in its 1999 Constitution.

People everywhere deserve to live in freedom and equality. No one should face violence or discrimination for who they are or who they love. We join with those in Nigeria who appeal for the protection of their fellow citizens' fundamental freedoms and universal human rights.

Nigeria is a deeply religious and intensely conservative country, divided between a poor, predominantly Muslim north and a rich, largely Christian south. With a population of nearly 175 million people, Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa and the seventh most populated country on the planet.


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