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Nigeria Passes Law to Ban Gay Meetings
Africa seems to be gearing up on criminalizing homosexuality. While a bill was passed in Uganda last month to punish “aggravated” homosexual acts with life imprisonment, Nigeria has now passed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act which makes it illegal for gay people even to hold a meeting. On top of which homosexual clubs, associations and organizations have been criminalized with their leaders and members open to punishment of up to 14 years in imprisonment. The law was signed by President Goodluck Jonathan early this month, but went unannounced.
While almost 38 African countries – almost 70% of the continent – have laws for the persecution of gays, the recent spate of laws come with ever increasing terms of punishment. Uganda’s law of life imprisonment for homosexuality is still to be signed by the President, but little opposition is foreseen.
It is possible that international human rights activism is one of the reasons why the law in Nigeria was passed behind closed doors. Even though the law was initially passed by the House of Representatives in Nigeria unanimously, it was not announced either when it was passed or after the president of the country signed it in January.
Both United States and Britain have expressed disapproval of the law which can mean an exodus of gays from the country seeking asylum elsewhere. While a statement from the British High Commission mentioned the law “infringes upon fundamental rights of expression and association which are guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution and by international agreements to which Nigeria is a party,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States is concerned and believes the law “dangerously restricts freedom of assembly association, and expression for all Nigerians.”
The requirement of the new law was unclear for many, as Nigeria already has a law that makes homosexuality unclear. It is possible that the law may be used against associations and activist organizations by branding dissenters as gay and putting them in prison while breaking up organizations not in favor of political regimes.
Any other use of the new law is hard to fathom as Nigeria’s existent law allows gays and lesbians to be stoned to death.
Nigeria President Jonathan Goodluck’s spokesperson clarified, “This is a law that is in line with the people’s cultural and religious inclination. So it is a law that is a reflection of the beliefs and orientation of Nigerian people … Nigerians are pleased with it.”
In protest, Canada has canceled Jonathan Goodluck’s state visits.
Nigeria has now passed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act which imposes a ban on gay meetings. Further to which, homosexual clubs, associations and organizations have been criminalized with their leaders with punishment of up to 14 years in imprisonment. This law was signed by President Goodluck Jonathan early this month, but went unannounced.
Image Credit: WikimediaNigeria Passes Law to Ban Gay Meetings by Scott