Amnesty International on Friday urged Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan to reject a bill that would outlaw gay marriage and crackdown on gay rights after lawmakers approved a final version for his signature.
The key elements of Nigeria’s anti-homosexuality legislation, which also criminalises public displays of affection between same sex couples, had cleared the upper and lower houses of parliament in May.
But there were minor differences between the drafts passed by the two legislative bodies.
Those discrepencies were resolved on Tuesday and the bill is now ready for President Goodluck Jonathan’s signature.
gays: A new law awaits Jonathan’s signature
“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,” said Aster van Kregten, Amnesty International’s Africa Deputy Director.
“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.”
Uganda’s parliament on Friday adopted its own draconian anti-gay bill that calls for repeat offenders to be jailed for life.
Like the Nigerian bill, it will only come into force if the country’s President Yoweri Museveni signs it.
Both pieces of legislation have been widely condemned by rights groups and world leaders, including in the US and Britain.
Nigeria is seen as being less susceptible to pressure from Western governments because, as Africa’s top oil producer, it receives very little foreign aid.
Under Nigeria’s bill, anyone who enters into a same-marriage or “civil union” can be sentenced to 14 years in prison.
It also says “any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations or directly or indirectly makes a public show of same-sex amorous relationship commits an offence and shall be liable to a term of 10 years imprisonment.”
Jonathan’s intentions regarding bill are not clear.
African Nations with anti-gay laws
– UGANDA: A new law adopted on Friday will see repeat offenders jailed for life, while the new bill stiffens penalties and also criminalises the public promotion of homosexuality — including discussions by rights groups.
– NIGERIA: In May, lawmakers approved a bill to outlaw gay marriage and crack down on gay rights, including criminalising public displays of affection between gays. The bill provides for jail terms of up to 14 years for gay marriage.
– CAMEROON: Homosexual relations can be punished with up to five years in prison.
– GAMBIA: Homosexuality is punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment, for men and women.
– ZAMBIA: Same-sex relationships have been banned since British colonial rule, and a sodomy conviction carries a 14-year prison sentence.
– SENEGAL: Anyone convicted of an “improper or unnatural act with a person of the same sex” faces up to five years in jail.
– TUNISIA: Sodomy between consenting adults is punishable with up to three years in prison.
– MOROCCO: Homosexuality is punishable by six months to three years in prison, but is tolerated provided practitioners do not flaunt their different sexual orientation.
– ALGERIA: Anyone charged with a homosexual act is liable to up to two years in prison, but people are rarely prosecuted for such offences.
In several countries homosexuality is a taboo subject, but with certain zones of tolerance:
– ZIMBABWE: President Robert Mugabe is known for saying that gays and lesbians are “worse than pigs and dogs”. However, the group Gays and Lesbians is authorised.
– MALAWI: In November 2012 President Joyce Banda suspended sodomy laws until they are debated by parliament. Under the country’s penal code, men can be sentenced for up to 14 years and women to five years for homosexuality.