Human rights activists in Africa today called on Nigerian officials to block passage of the anti-homosexuality bill that the Nigerian House of Representatives voted for earlier this week.
The bill, called an anti-same-sex-marriage bill, would extend the nation’s already-strict law against homosexual relations, adding prohibitions on groups that support gay rights and providing prison sentences for anyone involved in a same-sex marriage.
The bill would unnecessarily violate citizens’ privacy and would hinder the fight against HIV/AIDS, said The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIER), a program of the activist group African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR).
Arguments in support of the bill are “invalid, illogical and unethical in democratic politics,” said Olumide Makanjuola, TIER’s director of programs.
TIER called on the National Human Rights Commission to open a dialog with legislators about the adverse effects of passing the bill.
Before becoming law, the bill would need the approval of the President. If he did not approve it, the legislature could take up the bill again and enact it without presidential assent, TIER said.
Current Nigerian law, provides for up to a 14-year prison sentence for homosexual acts involving either men or women. In the northern part of the country, where sharia law applies, the death penalty can be applied for homosexual activity.
Several people are currently in imprison in Nigeria for violating the anti-homosexuality law.
For more information, see the full text of the TIER announcement.