• Friday, March 01, 2024
businessday logo


U.S. kicks as Jonathan signs anti-gay bill into law“


President Goodluck Jonathan has approved a bill banning gay marriage and same-sex partnerships that sparked international condemnation, Reuben Abati, special adviser on media and publicity to the president, said on Monday. But U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, said the United States was deeply concerned by the new measures.

“I can confirm that the president has signed the bill into law”, Abati told AFP, without specifying a date but adding that it happened earlier this month.

Abati said Jonathan signed off on the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2013 because it was consistent with the attitudes of most people towards homosexuality in the country.

“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”, he added.

“And I think that this law is made for a people and what (the) government has done is consistent with the preference of its environment”.

Amnesty International urged Jonathan to reject the bill, calling it “discriminatory” and warning of “catastrophic” consequences for Nigeria’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Under the terms of the law, anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage or civil union can be sentenced to 14 years in prison while any such partnerships entered into abroad are deemed “void”.
It also warns that anyone who registers, operates, or participates in gay clubs, societies, and organisations or who directly or indirectly makes a public show of a same-sex relationship will break the law.
Punishment is up to 10 years in prison, it adds.
“Only a marriage contract between a man and a woman shall be recognised as valid in Nigeria”, the law states.
U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, said the United States was deeply concerned by the new measures.

President Goodluck Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan

“Beyond even prohibiting same sex marriage, this law dangerously restricts freedom of assembly … and expression for all Nigerians”, he said in a statement.
“It is inconsistent with Nigeria’s international legal obligations and undermines … democratic reforms and human rights protections.”
While European countries, most recently France, have moved to offer same-sex couples the same legal rights enjoyed by heterosexuals, many African countries are seeking to tighten laws against homosexuality.
Britain and some other Western countries have threatened to cut aid to governments that pass laws persecuting homosexuals, a threat that has helped hold back or scupper such legislation in aid-dependent nations like Uganda and Malawi.
But they have little leverage over Nigeria, whose budget is funded by its 2-million-barrel-per-day oil output