Nigerian activists have told lawmakers that a proposed anti-gay bill would lead to widespread human rights abuses.
The activists spoke out against the bill to a public committee of the National Assembly, reports the BBC.
Even though homosexuality is already illegal in Nigeria – the most populous country in Africa – the proposed bill aims to criminalise same-sex marriage.
“This bill is not necessary; we see no reason why people should be criminalised. I did not choose to be gay. It is trial enough to live in this country, we should not create more laws to make us suffer” Rashidi Williams, 23, of the Queer Alliance of Nigeria told the committee.
Under the bill, anyone who enters “into a same gender marriage contract” could be jailed for three years while anyone who “witnesses, abet and aids the solemnisation” of such a union could be jailed for five years.
This new law could be used to punish anyone who gives any help or advice to a suspected “same gender” couple; anyone who rents them an apartment, tells them their rights, or approves of their relationships.
The bill also criminalises anyone “living together as husband and wife” which means that mere cohabitation or any suspected “intimate relationship” between members of the same sex could be grounds for prosecution under the country’s anti-gay laws.
Church groups have supported the proposed law, with Rev Patrick Alumake from the Catholic church telling the committee: “There are wild, weird, ways of life that are affecting our own culture very negatively, we have people who either by way of the media or travelling around the world have allowed new ideas which are harmful to our nation and our belief.”