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Harsh new anti-gay moves in Nigeria, Uganda

Legislators in Nigeria and Uganda are pushing forward with plans for passing tougher anti-homosexuality bills, beyond those countries’ already-strict laws against same-sex relations.

NIGERIA

In Nigeria, the House of Representatives on Nov. 13 unanimously approved a second reading of a bill to ban same-sex marriage and public displays of affection between homosexual couples, the Nigerian Vanguard news website reported.

The bill was passed by the Nigerian Senate a year ago, and approved on a first reading by the House of Representatives last December. Before taking effect, it would need  final approval from the House after a clause-by-clause review and from President Goodluck Jonathan.

In the form previously announced, it would provide for penalties such as:

  • A 14-year prison sentence for individuals entering into a same-sex marriage.
  • A 10-year sentence for public displays of same-sex affection.
  • A 10-year sentence for any individual who registers, operates, or participates in LGBT clubs, societies, organizations, processions, or meetings.
  • A 10-year sentence for any individual assisting at or witnessing a same-sex marriage.

In the southern part of Nigeria, the current law provides for up to a 14-year prison sentence for homosexual acts involving either men or women. In 12 Nigerian states in the north, where sharia law applies, the death penalty can be applied for homosexual activity.

Vanguard stated, “It is unclear why lawmakers have made such a ban a priority other than to gain popular support since gay marriage is not known to be prevalent in Nigeria and homosexuals are already harshly discriminated against.”

UGANDA

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, the speaker of the Ugandan parliament, says that country’s notorious anti-gay bill, known as the “Kill the Gays Bill,” will be passed before the end of the year, despite harsh international criticism.

The bill, filed by member of parliament David Bahati, originally called for the death penalty for repeat offenders. Some supporters of the bill say that the current draft of the bill eliminates that provision, but not everyone believes them.

At a meeting in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, several fundamentalist Christian leaders described the passage of the bill as a “a Christmas gift.”  Those leaders apparently did not include representatives of the prominently anti-gay Anglican Church of Uganda, not the Roman Catholic Church.

At an earlier meeting about the anti-gay bill, the Catholic archbishop was present and was reported to have supported a declaration in favor of the bill. But he has not made any public statements in favor of the bill, which the Vatican denounced when it was first proposed in 2008.

At that time, a Vatican spokesman stated that regarding a “penal code that criminalizes homosexuals or even foresees the death penalty for them, there is nothing to discuss: The Holy See is totally opposed.”

This week the Associated Press reported about the Uganda anti-gay bill:

Gay rights activists in Uganda, while opposing the bill, point out that it has helped their fight for equality by putting what used to be a taboo subject on the national agenda. Homosexuality is illegal in many African countries.

Pepe Julian Onziema, a prominent Ugandan gay activist, said the new push to pass the law was frustrating.

“It’s disappointing, but we are also going to seek a meeting with the speaker,” Onziema said. But it is unlikely the speaker will agree to such a gathering, he said.

While the bill appears to be popular in Uganda, it has attracted widespread criticism abroad. President Barack Obama has described it as “odious,” while some European countries have threatened to cut aid to Uganda if the bill becomes law.

11 thoughts on “Harsh new anti-gay moves in Nigeria, Uganda

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