Nigeria Senate approves bill criminalizing same-sex marriage

[JURIST] The Nigerian Senate [official website] passed a bill [SB 05] Tuesday that makes it illegal for same-sex couples to marry or for an individual to aid in the marriage of same-sex couples. 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. International opposition to the bill was recognized by lawmakers, but Senate President David Mark [official website] said that Nigeria would not bow to international pressure [AP Report] on any legislation. The bill now must be passed by the Nigerian House of Representatives and be signed by President Goodluck Jonathan [official websites] before becoming law.

Most African nations, excluding South Africa, have criminalized same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive], and Nigeria in particular has long discriminated against gays and lesbians. Earlier this month, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard [official website] proposed a vote on same-sex marriage, and Brazil granted its first citizenship based on same-sex marriage [JURIST reports]. In August, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera [official profile, in Spanish] proposed legislation that would legalize same-sex civil unions [JURIST report]. In June, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] passed its first gay rights resolution [JURIST report]. Despite these advances, other countries have stood strongly against same-sex marriage. In April, Hungary added a prohibition against gay marriage [JURIST report] to its constitution, and in January, France upheld a same-sex marriage ban [JURIST report]. As of a 2011 International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) [advocacy website] State-Sponsored Homophobia report [text, PDF], 76 countries still criminalize same-sex relationships, and five enforce the death penalty against homosexuals.

 

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