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Anti-Gay Bill Becomes Law in Nigeria

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Posted on Jan 13, 2014
GovernmentZA (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan toasts South African President Jacob Zuma in May 2013.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan trampled gays and lesbians on Monday when he signed a bill criminalizing same-sex marriages. The law bans homosexual “amorous relationships” and membership in gay rights groups and carries penalties for marriage of up to 14 years in prison.

Two similar bills had been proposed since 2006 but failed to make their way through parliament. The current legislation was passed by the national assembly in May.

Reuters reports:

As in much of sub-Saharan Africa, anti-gay sentiment and persecution of homosexuals is rife in Nigeria, so the new legislation is likely to be popular. Jonathan is expected to seek re-election in 2015 but is under pressure after several dozen lawmakers and a handful of regional governors defected to the opposition in the past two months.

Under existing Nigerian federal law, sodomy is punishable by jail, but this bill legislates for a much broader crackdown on homosexuals and lesbians, who already live a largely underground existence.

Britain and some other countries attempted to thwart the bill by threatening to cut aid to Nigeria, but such tactics held little sway since the country’s budget is funded by its 2-million-barrel-per-day oil revenue.

The law reads: “Persons who enter into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union commit an offence and are each liable on conviction to a term of 14 years in prison.”

“Any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison.”

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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