A shocking Nigerian bill that will jail any gay or lesbian couples who try to marry for 14 years and will make gay groups illegal is a step closer to becoming law.
In May, the ‘Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill and other Related Matters’ was passed by Nigeria’s House of Representatives. It had been approved by the Senate in 2011.
However, there were discrepancies between the versions of the bill passed by the two houses which prevented it from being signed by President Goodluck Jonathan.
On Tuesday, this was revolved after the Senate unanimously approved a Conference Committee report harmonising the two versions of the bill and reconciling any differences.
Senate President David Mark appealed to the country’s president to sign the bill as soon as possible.
“We have been under a series of attacks from different quarters. I think we believe in this bill,” Mark was quoted as saying by This Day.
“The earlier we sign it into law, the better. We (Nigeria) have many shortcomings, we don’t want to add this one (same sex marriage) to them,” he said.
If it becomes law, the sweeping legislation will not only jail same-sex couples who attempt to marry for 14 years but will also jail anyone who witnesses, solemnises or aids a same-sex marriage for 10 years.
The bill has far wider implications; it will also jail anyone who supports or operates gay clubs, societies and organisations, processions or meetings for 10 years.
Homosexual acts in Nigeria are already illegal with up to a maximum of 14 years’ imprisonment. Twelve northern states in Nigeria have also enacted Shari’a law that allows homosexuality to be punished with death by stoning.