President Goodluck Jonathan has approved a bill banning gay marriage and same-sex partnerships, it was revealed on Monday January 13th 2014.
Under the terms of the law, anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage or civil union can be sentenced to 14 years in prison while any such partnerships entered into abroad are deemed “void”.
It also warns that anyone who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations or who directly or indirectly makes a public show of a same-sex relationship will break the law.
Punishment is up to 10 years in prison, it adds.
Amnesty International urged Jonathan to reject the bill, calling it “discriminatory” and warning of “catastrophic” consequences for Nigeria’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Yahoo News reports:
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States was deeply concerned by the new measures.
“Beyond even prohibiting same sex marriage, this law dangerously restricts freedom of assembly … and expression for all Nigerians,” he said in a statement.
“It is inconsistent with Nigeria’s international legal obligations and undermines … democratic reforms and human rights protections.”
While European countries, most recently France, have moved to offer same-sex couples the same legal rights enjoyed by heterosexuals, many African countries are seeking to tighten laws against homosexuality.
Britain and some other Western countries have threatened to cut aid to governments that pass laws persecuting homosexuals, a threat that has helped hold back or scupper such legislation in aid-dependent nations like Uganda and Malawi.
But they have little leverage over Nigeria, whose budget is funded by its 2-million-barrel-per-day oil output.