President Goodluck Jonathan has signed into law a bill banning gay marriage and same-sex partnerships in Nigeria, just as the United States expressed concern saying the act is discriminatory.
Many Nigerian religious leaders including the President of the Christain Association of Nigeria (CAN) Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor had expressed satisfaction with the law.
The bill went through a pupolar passage at the National Assembly last year amid heated reactions from international communities especially western countries who saw the enacted law as a violation of human right.
Right groups including Amnesty International had since urged Jonathan to withhold his assent, describing it as “discriminatory” and warning of “catastrophic” consequences for Nigeria’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Sources at both the Presidency and National Assembly confirmed to Newsinvestigators that president Jonathan appended his signature to the bill into law last week as part of his first assignment for the new year.
Presidency source said Jonathan signed the bill for an Act for the Prohibition of Same Sex Marriage( 2013) because it was consistent with the African’s norms and values. “It is simply foreign, and that explains the overwhelming supports it enjoyed at NASS,” the source added.
President of the Senate, Senator David Mark had dismissed same sex marriage as a misnormal to African culture and belief.
Agency reports also quoted the presidency as confirming that the bill has been signed into law.
“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,” Mr. Reuben Abati, presidential spokesman was quoted as saying.
“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.”
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 would be guilty of voilating the law, which attracts a punishment of up to 10 years in prisonment.
The Same sex prohibition Act provides that “only a marriage contract between a man and a woman shall be recognized as valid in Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, the United States on Monday criticized Nigeria for approving a law that punishes same-sex marriage with prison, saying the move would curtail basic human rights.
Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States expressed deep concerns about the new law, saying it “dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association and expression for all Nigerians.”
Kerry said the act “is inconsistent with Nigeria’s international legal obligations and undermines the democratic reforms and human rights protections enshrined in its 1999 constitution.”
“People everywhere deserve to live in freedom and equality. No one should face violence or discrimination for who they are or who they love,” Kerry said in a statement.
Nigeria is a highly religious society, with its 170 million people roughly divided in half between Christians and Muslims, though a significant number are also believed to follow traditional religions.
The anti-gay law follows similar legislation passed in Uganda.