Nigeria’s parliament has adopted the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill, a law with a penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment for gay, lesbian and bisexual (LGB) people who marry or display affection.
Initially tabled in 2011, the bill adopted outlaws same-sex marriage in Nigeria, and punishes with fourteen years of prison anyone who marries, or is married to, a person of the same sex. No exceptions are foreseen for foreign tourists, workers including aid workers, or diplomats.
The law will also punish with ten years’ imprisonment any public display of affection between two people of the same sex, or any involvement in running a gay bar or an NGO defending the human rights of LGBT people.
The UK gay Humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) has expressed shock at the news.
Commenting on this development the PTT’s secretary, George Broadhead, said:
“This is shocking news. Gays, lesbians and bisexuals already face open discrimination and abuse in a country divided by Christians and Muslims who almost uniformly oppose homosexuality. In Nigeria’s north, where Islamic Sharia law has been enforced for about a decade, LGB people can face death by stoning.
“It seems that there is a very real threat that this draconian bill will become law and, if it does, Nigeria will become the most homophobic nation in Africa. Even in South Africa, the one country where gays can marry, lesbians have been brutally attacked and murdered.
“If the bill is enacted, the situation for LGB people in Nigeria will become completely untenable, setting a precedent that would threaten all Nigerians’ rights to privacy, equality, free expression and free association.
“It is clear that the impetus for such legislation has come from religious sources. The Nigerian Humanist Movement (NHM), which has had financial support from the PTT, has been one of the few organisations defending LGB rights in the country. Its former executive director, Leo Igwe, deserves much credit for courageously speaking up for these rights in the country’s parliament.”