The Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which was passed last December before the president signed it into law this week, bans gay and lesbian marriages, public displays of same-sex relationships, outlaws organisations supporting LGBTI rights, and enforces various jail terms for anyone breaking these laws.
“Persons who enter into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union commit an offence and are each liable on conviction to a term of 14 years in prison,” the bill says.
“Any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison.”
This means openly-gay citizens are at risk of being imprisoned whether or not they engage in sex.
It has also been reported that the bill dictates that citizens who know of a gay or lesbian person now have to tell the authorities or face jail for five years, and even guests at a same-sex wedding ceremony could be imprisoned.
“Yes, Mr President had signed the bill into law, a statement will be issued on it within the week,” presidency spokesman Reuben Abati told Reuters, without specifying when exactly it was signed.
Reuters also reported that Abati said Jonathan signed the bill because it was consistent with the attitudes of most people towards homosexuality in Nigeria.
Homosexual sex is already illegal in Nigeria, punished with 14 year’s jail in the south and lashings or stoning to death under extremist religious law in the north.
Since the laws were enacted, human rights activists have alleged that dozens of gay men were being arrested in northern Nigeria in an apparent response.
The new Nigerian homophobic laws have been widely condemned by the west, with Britain and several other nations threatening to cut aid. However, unlike neighbouring African countries, this had little effect on the parliament of oil-rich Nigeria.
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