Nigeria’s House of Representatives voted Thursday to ban gay marriage and outlaw any groups actively supporting gay rights, endorsing a measure that also calls for 10-year prison sentences for any “public show” of affection by a same-sex couple.
Under the proposed law, Nigeria would ban any same-sex marriage from being conducted in either a church or a mosque. Gay or lesbian couples who marry could face up to 14 years each in prison. Witnesses or anyone who helps couples marry could be sentenced to 10 years behind bars. Anyone taking part in a group advocating for gay rights or anyone caught in a “public show” of affection also would face 10 years in prison if convicted by a criminal court.
Nigeria’s anti-gay marriage bill has drawn the interest of European Union countries. Many of these countries offer gay Nigerians asylum. The British government recently threatened to cut aid to any African country that violates the rights of its gay and lesbian citizens.
In 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama issued a similar directive asking officials to “ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of” gays, lesbians and the transgendered. That included having diplomats “combat the criminalization” of being gay by foreign governments.
The USAID is one organization that may have issues when it comes to funding HIV and AIDS in Nigeria, because it would include working with gays and lesbians. Considering that the new law now makes it criminal, cuts to funding may be inevitable.