This week the Nigerian Senate voted and approved a homophobic anti-gay marriage bill. The bill will not only completely outlaw gay marriage, but it also will make even stricter laws and stricter punishments for Nigeria’s gay and lesbian community.
Under the proposed law, gay couples who marry will face up to 14 years each in prison. Witnesses or anyone who helps couples marry could be sentenced to 10 years in prison. The bill faces little opposition from the Nigerian people, who for the most part support the severe punishment of Nigeria’s gay citizens. “Such elements in society should be killed,” Sen. Baba Dati said during the debate.
According to a 2008 survey by Nigeria’s Information for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, only 1.4% of Nigerians felt “tolerant” towards LGBT people. In the northern parts of Nigeria, which have a Muslim-majority, homosexual acts can result in sentences of death by stoning. In the southern half of the nation, which is primarily Christian, the hatred runs just as deep. 50.4% of Nigeria’s population are Muslims, 48.2% are Christian.
“The bill will expand Nigeria’s already draconian punishments for consensual same-sex conduct and set a precedent that would threaten all Nigerians’ rights to privacy, equality, free expression, association and to be free from discrimination,” said Erwin van der Borght, the director of Amnesty International’s Africa program.