Abuja, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria’s president has signed a law that bans same-sex marriage and criminalizes homosexual associations, societies and meetings, with penalties of up to 14 years in jail.
The Associated Press obtained a copy of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act on Monday. It was signed by President Goodluck Jonathan and dated Jan. 7.
It was unclear why the law’s passage has been shrouded in secrecy. The copy obtained from the House of Representatives in Abuja, the capital, showed it was signed by those lawmakers and senators on Dec. 17, but no announcement was made.
Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday the United States was “deeply concerned” by a law that “dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association, and expression for all Nigerians.”
It is now a crime to have a meeting of gays, or to operate or go to a gay club, society or organization.
The new law says, “A person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies or organizations, or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria, commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a term of 10 years.”
Anyone convicted of entering into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union faces up to 14 years’ imprisonment, it says.
Nigeria already has a law inherited from British colonizers that makes homosexual sex illegal in the West African nation.
“If that bill passes, it will be illegal for us to even be holding this conversation,” Olumide Makanjuola, executive director of the Initiative For Equality in Nigeria, told AP.
Those who will suffer most under the law are poor, gay Nigerians, she said. Many rich ones already have left the country, or say they will fly elsewhere to have sex, she said.
by Bashir Adigun and Michelle Faul, Associated Press
Source – USA Today