Senator Domingo Alaba Obende

Nigerian LGBTI activists have expressed their shock at the pending passage of a bill that aims to ban same-sex marriage in the country.

The Coalition for the Defense of Sexual Rights (CDSR) said that it was “shocked and deeply concerned” by news of the proposed legislation, titled “a bill for an act to prohibition marriage between persons of same gender, solemnisation of same and for other matters related therewith.”

The bill, sponsored by Senator Domingo Alaba Obende, was recently debated in the Senate after which it was sent to a number of parliamentary committees. It is expected to pass a final reading in the Senate by the end of the year.

“We wish to remind the parliament that Nigeria is a secular state. This means that the laws of our land cannot and should not be drafted and/or enacted on the basis of a particular religious and cultural value,” said CDSR. “These values already indicate the diversity of Nigeria as a heterogeneous society–hence our federal system of government.”

The organisation insisted that not a single gay group in the country has asked or lobbied for the right to marry. It said that activists’ focus has been on advocating for tolerance and respect for everyone irrespective of his or her sex, gender, age, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation and gender identity.

“As citizens and human rights defenders, we demand our rights. As tax-paying Nigerians, we demand the efficient use of our financial resources,” said CDSR.

If the bill becomes law, same-sex couples who attempt to marry would 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.

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