Senator Domingo Alaba Obende
A bill to explicitly ban same-sex marriage in Nigeria was debated on Tuesday in the country’s Senate, receiving wide support.
According to local media, the bill was sponsored by Senator Domingo Alaba Obende and co-sponsored by 25 other senators.
The bill, which already passed a first reading in July, is titled, “A bill for an act to prohibit marriage between persons of same sex, solemnisation of same and for other matters related therewith”.
If it becomes law, same-sex couples who attempt to marry face three years in jail. Anyone who is found guilty of witnessing or aiding the solemnisation of a same-sex marriage could be fined 50,000 Nigerian Naira (around R 2,500) or receive up to five years in prison.
“Opening the legal door to same sex marriage in Nigeria will be morally and ideologically unsound when other traditionally shunned intuitions as incest remain illegal,” said Obende in the debate, reports Vanguardngr.com.
“The problem with sex marriage is not the slippery slope; the primary assertion is that, just as most Nigerians should maintain that incest is socially unacceptable practise, so too should they disallow same-sex marriage.”
Obende added: “Instead of providing for father and mother, the advent of same-sex marriage will create millions of motherless and fatherless children and this is morally wrong.”
Senator Ita Enang, however, argued that the bill was not needed as homosexuality was already outlawed by the country’s penal code.
According to Leadership.ng, the bill nevertheless passed Tuesday’s second reading and was sent to the Standing Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, as well as the Committee on Health and Interior.
The bill is expected to pass a final reading in the Senate by the end of the year.
Homosexuality is outlawed under the Nigerian penal code and can carry a penalty of imprisonment of up to 14 years. In the country’s northern states, which also operate under Sharia Muslim law, the punishment can be death.