[JURIST] Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan [official profile] signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act into law on Monday, prompting condemnation throughout the international community. The law bans same-sex marriage and criminalizes [AP report] homosexual associations, societies and meetings and carries a punishment of up to 14 years imprisonment. Though sodomy is already a crime in Nigeria, the law marks a crackdown [Reuters report] on homosexuals in Nigeria. US Secretary of State John Kerry [official website] released a statement [text] condemning the law as a “danger[ous] restrict[ion] on freedom of assembly, association and expression for all Nigerians” and inconsistent with Nigeria’s international legal obligations.
Homosexuality is illegal in 37 African countries [CGE backgrounder], and South Africa is the only country on the continent [BBC report] where same-sex marriage is not prohibited. In May 2012 Malawi’s President Joyce Banda announced [JURIST report] that she would move to decriminalize homosexual acts. However, Malawi’s government reversed its position [JURIST report] in November 2012 in response to backlash from from church groups. In 2011 the US announced [JURIST report] measures to combat international criminalization of homosexuality by considering gay rights in granting foreign aid. In 2010 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called upon [JURIST report] countries throughout the world to abolish laws that discriminate against homosexuals.