Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is reported to have signed a bill containing the most draconian new anti-gay legislation in the world for years. The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, also known as the ‘Jail All The Gays’ law bans gay and lesbian marriage, outlaws anyone from forming organizations supporting LGBTI rights, and sets up prison terms of up to 14 years. Openly gay people risk being imprisoned whether or not they have sex. Anybody who knows somebody who is gay will have to tell the authorities or go to jail for five years. Any same-sex couple getting married can be punished by up to 14 years prison and 10 for anyone else involved in the ceremony. Even wedding guests can be jailed.
And ‘any person who directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationships’ gets a 10-year sentence. The Senate passed the law originally in November 2011 and it was approved by Nigeria’s House of Representatives in a voice vote on 18 December 2013. It has only been awaiting Jonathan’s signature to become law. If reports are accurate the bill has been signed into law, some say the reason it is being kept quiet by Nigerian authorities is to lessen the diplomatic damage as it has been opposed by western nations. The reports claim Jonathan gave consent on 7 January but the information only leaked out today.
Unlike other acts of the senate and assembly, the new legislation has not been published on the official parliamentary website. Homosexual sex was already criminal in Nigeria, punished with 14 year’s jail in the south and lashings or stoning to death under Shari’a law in the north. UPDATE: ‘I can confirm that the president has signed the bill into law,’ the Nigerian president’s spokesman Reuben 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 west African nation.
‘More than 90% 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.’
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