Legislators in Nigeria passed a bill on Thursday that outlaws marriage equality. The law also bans Nigerians from forming and supporting LGBT rights groups.
Other components of the bill consist of making same-sex public displays of affection illegal and criminalizing the registration of gay organizations and clubs.
President Goodluck Jonathan will now have the final decision, after Nigeria’s House of Representatives gave the law their approval. There is uncertainty whether he will sign off on the legislation given that the US and UK have indicated they may cut funding for HIV/AIDS programs. Nigeria, with a population of 160 million, has the third-highest number of people globally who live with the disease.
Nigeria’s proposal has made news in Europe, with many countries offering asylum to the nation’s sexual minorities based on gender identity. Already, the country has one of lowest rankings worldwide for its record on LGBT rights. According to a 2007 poll, 97% of residents said they believe homosexuality is a way of life that society should reject, a figure only surpassed by Mali.
The penalty for same-sex sexual activity in the country has existed since British colonial rule and ranges from a 14 year prison sentence in some states to the death penalty in others. Nigeria has split religious demographics with roughly half Christians and half Muslims. Both groupings reject homosexuality leading to widespread discrimination of the LGBT community.