Amnesty International has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to withhold his assent to a bill that would outlaw gay marriage and crackdown on gay rights after the National Assembly Tuesday approved a final version for his signature.
This was sequel to the adoption of the harmonization of the differences in the House of Representatives and Senate’s separate versions of the legislation.
According to Aster van Kregten, Amnesty International’s Africa Deputy Director “This discriminatory bill, which not only criminalises same-sex marriage but also makes public displays of affection and even socialising in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex community illegal, must be rejected by the President.
“If the President signs the bill into law it would make Nigeria one of the least tolerant societies in the world and have catastrophic consequences for the country’s LGBTI community and human rights organisations”, Kregten added.
Under Section 5 of the bill: “Persons who entered into a same s*x marriage contract or civil union commit an offence and are each liable on conviction to a term of 14 years in prison”.
Also, sub-section 2 states: “Any person, who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations or directly or indirectly make public show of same s*x amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison”.
In a country that prides itself as highly religious, it is not known yet whether President Jonathan will bow to pressure from the international community and withhold assent to the bill but some European countries, such as the United Kingdom, has warned that it will withhold aid to any African country that criminalizes same sex marriage.