Nigeria Advances Anti-Gay Bill, Latest African Nation to Try to ’Ban’ Homosexuality

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Thursday November 15, 2012

Lawmakers in Nigeria have been pushing through an anti-gay bill that would radically push back on equal rights in the West African country.

The bill is dangerously close to becoming law, according to the Daily Nation. Nigeria's Senate has already approved it. It recently passed a second reading in the House of Representatives with a unanimous vote. It is now set to go through a clause-by-clause review in the chamber, with the date yet to be announced.

If the bill is passed, it would severely limit the rights of gay men and woman in Africa's most populous nation. LGBT Nigerians already face extreme hardships.

A year ago, Nigeria's senate approved the Prohibition of Same-Sex Marriage Bill. The proposed legislation would go much further, including sentencing gay couples, who try to marry or live together, to a maximum of 14 years in jail, which is similar to laws in other African nations that oppose homosexuality.

Under the proposed law, individuals who witness or help these couples would face a 10-year sentence. Additionally, the bill bans public displays of affection between same-sex couples. LGBT organizations would also be made illegal.

"It is alien to our society and culture and it must not be imported," House majority leader Mulikat Adeola-Akande said about same-sex marriage. "Religion abhors it and our culture has no place for it," she added.

House Minority Leader Femi Gbajabiamila called gay marriage "both illegal and immoral" and said that the bill represents "convergence of both law and morality."

The country's president, Goodluck Jonathan, must sign off on the bill in order for it to become law.

Several countries in Africa are fierce in their opposition to not only LGBT rights and marriage equality, but also the very presence of gay men and lesbians in their country. On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that Uganda's legislature was set to pass an anti-gay bill that originally sentenced gay men to death for some gay acts before the end of the year in the face of protests from around the world.

Ugandan Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said the East African nation's citizens "are demanding it" and that gay men and woman pose a "serious threat" to children. Gay marriage is already outlawed in Uganda, and the country's penal code criminalizes homosexuality.

In 2009, a lawmaker, David Bahati, urged for a stronger law that would protect children from homosexuals. He expressed the belief that rich gay men from the West were "recruiting" poor children into gay lifestyles. American evangelicals, led by Scott Lively, have been instrumental in forwarding Uganda's anti-gay legislation.

On Nov. 11, AP pointed out that Christians and Muslims in another African nation, Liberia, came together to launch a campaign that urges a ban on same-sex marriage and any LGBT organizations. The campaign is looking to gain 1 million signatures. The group has already collected more than 25,000 signatures.

Amidst the depressing number of African countries that seem to be falling over themselves in their rhetoric, Malawi's government recently announced that it would suspend laws that ban homosexuality while officials debate on an outright repeal.

Currently, gay men and woman in Malawi are prohibited from getting married or entering into any kind of relationship, and consensual homosexual acts are punishable by law with individuals facing up to 14 years in prison. The country's justice minister said police are not allowed to arrest or prosecute gay men and woman until Malawi's parliament votes to repeal the anti-gay laws.