Nigeria lawmakers approve bill criminalizing same-sex marriage

[JURIST] The Nigerian House of Representatives [official website] on Tuesday passed the second reading of a bill [SB 05] that makes same-sex marriage [JURIST feature] illegal and also places sanctions on individuals who aid in the marriage of same-sex couples. The measure was approved [JURIST report] by the Nigerian Senate [official website] last year, and will undergo a clause-by-clause review [AFP report] before it becomes finalized. The bill explicitly states that marriages entered into by persons of the same gender are prohibited and will not be recognized as valid, even if the marriage certificate is obtained in a foreign country. Individuals who enter into a same-sex marriage are liable for three years imprisonment each, and any person or group who aids a same-sex marriage contract is liable for a term of imprisonment of five years, a fine or both. Commentators have noted that the Nigerian criminalization of same-sex marriage would have ominous implications for individual rights [JURIST op-ed].

Homosexuality is illegal in 36 African nations, and South Africa is the only country on the continent where same-sex marriage is not prohibited [BBC report]. Earlier this month, Malawi's government changed its position [JURIST report] on a decision to suspend it laws barring same-sex marriage and homosexuality after being pressured by a number of churches This follows Malawi President Joyce Banda announcement in her first national address [text] in May that she would decriminalize homosexual acts [JURIST report]. This announcement came as a move to normalize relations with Malawi's development partners in response to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration [official websites] pledging to promote LGBT rights when granting foreign aid [JURIST report]. In September 2010 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] called for countries around the world to abolish laws discriminating against gay and lesbian individuals [JURIST report].

 

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