Nigeria approves Bill criminalising gay marriage

Nigeria’s senate voted on Tuesday to criminalise gay marriage, instituting prison terms of more than a decade for violations in a nation where gays and lesbians already face discrimination and abuse.

The Bill heads to Nigeria’s House of Representatives, who have to approve the Bill and send it to President Goodluck Jonathan for his signature before it becomes law. However, public opinion — and lawmakers’ calls for even harsher penalties for being gay — shows wide support for the measure in the deeply religious nation.

“Such elements in society should be killed,” senator Baba Dati said during the debate.

Under the measure, couples who marry could face up to 14 years in jail and witnesses or anyone who helps couples marry could be sentenced to 10 years behind bars. That’s an increase over the Bill’s initial penalties.

Homosexuality is already technically illegal in Nigeria, a country evenly divided between Christians and Muslims that is nearly universally opposed to homosexuality. In the areas in Nigeria’s north where Islamic Shariah law has been enforced for about a decade, gays and lesbians can face death by stoning.

Asylum
Across the African continent, many countries have made homosexuality punishable by jail sentences. Ugandan legislators introduced a Bill that would impose the death penalty for some gays and lesbians though it has not been passed into law two years later. Even in South Africa, the one country where gays can marry, lesbians have been brutally attacked and murdered.

The proposed law also has drawn the interest of European Union countries, some of which already offer Nigeria’s sexual minorities asylum based on gender identity. The British government also recently threatened to cut aid to African countries that violate the rights of gay and lesbian citizens. However, British aid remains quite small in oil-rich Nigeria, one of the top crude suppliers to the US.

International opinion also didn’t seem to trouble lawmakers. During the debate, televised live from the National Assembly in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, senate president David Mark said Nigeria would not bow to international pressure on any legislation.

“Anybody can write to us but our values are our values,” Mark said. “No country has a right to interfere in the way we make our laws.” — Sapa-AP

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Jon Gambrell
Jon Gambrell works from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I am the Gulf and Iran news director for The Associated Press (@AP) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, by way of Egypt, Nigeria, Arkansas and many points between. Jon Gambrell has over 46736 followers on Twitter.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

Art and big business: the best of bedfellows

Corporates’ collections are kept relevant by sharing the works with the public and supporting artists

AfriForum in border dispute with SANDF

Civil group alleges that SANDF and SAPS members have been pressured to stop cooperating with its civilian safety structure

Off to the races! What to expect from 2022 Durban...

The Durban July is back, which means the glamour and high fashion are back too.

Reinventing the wheel: Google tech gets clunky

The XC60 is everything you would expect – except for one puzzling inclusion
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×