It’s a bill that has been shrouded in secrecy, but on Monday, Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, signed a law that bans same-sex marriage and criminalizes homosexual associations, societies and meetings, with penalties of up to 14 years in jail.
“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 organizations 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.”
Where as most countries have, like France, have loosened their laws and now make it legal for same-sex couples to marry, many African countries have tightened their laws. Although Britain and some other Western countries have threatened to cut aid to those governments who pass laws persecuting homosexuality, threats to Nigeria, whose budget is funded by its 2-million-barrel-per-day oil output, more than likely would fall of deaf ears.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States was deeply concerned by the new measures. “Beyond even prohibiting same sex marriage, this law dangerously restricts freedom of assembly … and expression for all Nigerians,” he said in a statement.
“It is inconsistent with Nigeria’s international legal obligations and undermines … democratic reforms and human rights protections.”