Activists urge Nigerian President not to sign ‘catastrophic’ and ‘outrageous’ anti-gay law

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Campaigners have warned the President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, against signing a law to further criminalise same-sex marriages with prison terms of up to 14 years.

Nigeria’s Parliament passed the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill in May and final details were agreed by lawmakers last month – just before Uganda’s Parliament passed its own Anti-Homosexuality bill.

Same-sex relationships are already illegal in Nigeria and the proposed law means same-sex couples entering into either marriage or cohabitation could face 14 years each in prison.

According to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), friends and family of LGBT Nigerians attending wedding ceremonies could face up to 10 years in prison. Anyone providing services to a gay person faces a potential custodial sentence of 5 years.

Any public display of same-sex affection will be outlawed. LGBT pride events also face being banned.

Human rights campaigners have criticised the move.

“Nigerian politicians are once again scapegoating LGBT individuals in a manner that is likely to facilitate violence and abuse,” Jessica Stern, executive director of IGLHRC, said in a statement. “This is not only an outrage, it is counter to Nigeria’s human rights obligations and anathema to human decency.”

Aster van Kregten, Amnesty International’s Africa deputy director, added: “This discriminatory bill, which not only criminalises same-sex marriage but also makes public displays of affection and even socialising in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community illegal, must be rejected by the president.

“If the president signs the bill into law it would make Nigeria one of the least tolerant societies in the world and have catastrophic consequences for the country’s LGBTI community and human rights organisations”.