Richard Branson

The head of the Virgin empire has called Nigeria’s planned ban on gay marriage “cruel” and has urged educated Nigerians to reject the law.

“Too sad to comprehend that Nigeria are passing a law in this day and age to put gay people in prison just for being gay,” said Richard Branson on his blog.

If the bill, which was passed by the Senate last week, becomes law, members of same-sex couples who attempt to marry face 14 years in jail. Anyone who is found guilty of witnessing or aiding the solemnisation of a same-sex marriage could be fined or receive up to ten years in prison.

“People are born gay. In countries where gay people are accepted, they are amongst the most creative and dynamic people in society and countries should embrace them not prosecute them,” wrote Branson.

“All of us with influence in Nigeria must do what we can to stop this cruel law. I would urge educated Nigerians all over the world to do what they can to help fight this discrimination.”

On Wednesday, the bill was introduced into the House of Representatives. A date has not yet been set for it to be debated.

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