Nigeria criminalizes same-sex marriage

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Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has approved a bill that not only bans same-sex marriage, but criminalizes it. A spokesperson for Jonathan, Reuben Abati, did not clarify the exact date, but merely stated on January 13 that the president had signed sometime “earlier this month.”

“I can confirm that the president has signed the bill into law,” Abati said.

He added that the president had decided to sign the bill in order to fit the demands of the Nigerian people.

“More than 90 percent of Nigerians are opposed to same-sex marriage. So, the law is in line with our cultural and religious beliefs as a people,” said Abati. “I think that this law is made for a people and what [the]government has done is consistent with the preference of its environment.”

The new law persecutes any person who marries a same-sex partner. The offense is punishable by fourteen years in prison. Furthermore, the same-sex marriage or civil union will be determined void.

But law is not intolerant of only same-sex marriages. It also states that anyone who registers, operates, or participates in gay clubs or societies, as well as anyone who shows any homosexual public displays of affection, is breaking the law. These offenses are punishable by up to ten years behind bars.

Nigeria’s population of 170 million is heavily religious, divided mainly between Christians and Muslims.

The law states, “Only a marriage contract between a man and a woman shall be recognized as valid in Nigeria.”

Uganda recently passed its own anti-homosexuality law, one that has the potential to put LGBT Ugandans in jail for life. However, its devout Christian president, Yoweri Museveni, is taking time to consider the bill before determining if it’s “right.”

“There has been pressure from religious leaders and parliament to sign the bill into law,” spokesperson Tamale Mirundi told Agence France-Presse on Museveni’s behalf. “[He] won’t rush to assent the bill before he studies it…President Museveni is a practical president, he makes decisions based on analysis and not on how many support or are against it.”

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