Nigeria lawmakers OK 14-year sentences for gay marriage

AP reports:

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (Photo by Ricardo Stuckert via Wikimedia Commons)
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (Photo by Ricardo Stuckert via Wikimedia Commons)

“Lawmakers in Nigeria passed a bill Thursday banning gay marriage and [Editor’s note: perhaps, perhaps not] outlawing anyone from forming organizations supporting gay rights, setting prison terms of up to 14 years for offenders.

“Nigeria’s House of Representatives approved the bill in a voice vote, likely sending it immediately to President Goodluck Jonathan for him to potentially sign into law in Africa’s most populous nation.”

Although the AP article says it is likely that the bill is heading directly to the president’s desk, the legislation probably will have to return to the Senate for more action.

Online coverage from the Nigerian newspaper Vanguard stated, “The bill is expected to be sent to the Senate for concurrence.” The Vanguard article did not mention a 14-year sentence for people in LGBT organizations, but only the provisions related to same-sex marriage.

Similarly, online coverage from the Daily Trust of Nigeria said the bill was amended today by the House to set an eight-year maximum prison term for people who administer or “screen, aid or abet” same-sex marriages. Those amendments would mean that further Senate action would be needed.

The AP article stated:

Nigeria’s Senate previously passed the bill in November 2011 and the measure quietly disappeared for some time before coming up in Thursday’s session of the House. Under previous versions of the proposed law, couples who marry could face up to 14 years each in prison. Witnesses or anyone who helps couples marry could be sentenced to 10 years behind bars.

Other additions to the bill [as previously amended] would make it illegal to register gay clubs or organizations, as well as criminalizing the “public show of same-sex amorous relationships directly or indirectly.” Those who violate those laws would face 10-year imprisonment as well.

While the bill read Thursday during the House session appeared to be similar, The Associated Press could not immediately obtain a copy of the version lawmakers passed. If there are differences between the House and Senate versions, a joint committee of lawmakers will have to first iron out those differences before sending it to the president.

Read the full articles here:

Watch for more coverage of this legislation later.

[Correction: The original headline of this article incorrectly said today’s action was by the Nigerian Senate.]

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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