LGBT advocates are warning that a legislative push to stiffen penalties for same-sex marriage in Nigeria could lead to further discrimination and violence against the country’s vulnerable gay and lesbian population — which is the likely intent of some lawmakers behind the move.
Text of one version of the bill, which the national senate began debating earlier this month, reads: “[A] marriage contract entered between persons of the same gender is hereby prohibited in Nigeria.” Anyone who witnesses or aids in “the solemnization of a same sex marriage contract commits an offense and is liable to a term of 5 years imprisonment.” Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in the country, as are same-sex marriages.
“It’s going to give the Nigerian police, who are already known for abusing their power, a license to violate the rights of both gay and non-gay people,” Damian Ugwu, an activist with the Lagos-based Social Justice Advocacy Initiative, told IRIN Africa. “It’s going to create an avenue where young men and women, who often live together in big cities for financial reasons, will become targets for extortion.”
Box Turtle Bulletin reports that a kiss-in protest is planned for Tuesday afternoon in front of the Nigerian embassy in London.
Read the IRIN report here.