Nigeria Passes Bill to Ban Gay Marriage, Gay Rights Groups

Nigeria moved a step closer to not only banning gay marriage but also establishing jail terms of up to 10 years for those found guilty of forming gay rights organizations, after lawmakers passed a long-debated bill on Thursday.


President Goodluck Jonathan will have to sign the House of Representatives-approved bill before it becomes law, but whether or not he will place his name on it remains to be determined, The Associated Press reported. Nigeria receives international aid funding for AIDS and HIV outreach programs from countries like the U.S. and U.K., which have opposed the criminalization of homosexuality.

“Same-sex marriage cannot be allowed on moral and religious grounds. The Muslim religion forbids it. Christianity forbids it and the African traditional religion forbids it,” the bill’s sponsor, Senator Domingo Obende, previously said.

The bill, which was passed by the Senate in November 2011, carries a 10-year prison sentence for offenders who are deemed to have formed a gay rights club or organization. Any public showing of same-sex romantic relationships will also be against the law, and gay couples who marry could face up to 14 years behind bars. Those who help them or serve as witnesses to such a marriage could get up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

Nigeria, a country of 170 million people, is divided by geographical and religious lines – half the population is Muslim, concentrated mostly in the North, while the other half is largely Christian, living in the South. President Jonathan is a Christian, and the Nigerian constitution provides for freedom of religion

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