The Nigeria Senate last week approved
on second reading a bill that would criminalize gay marriage in
Africa's most populous nation.
The proposed legislation prescribes a
three year jail term for a person who enters the contract of marriage
with a member of the same sex. A person – or group of persons –
who witnesses, abets and aids the solemnization of a gay marriage may
receive up to five years imprisonment or a fine of 5,000 naira, about
$32 in a country where the average daily income is $3.
Gay sex – and by extension marriage –
is already criminal in Nigeria. A man convicted of violating “carnal
knowledge against natural order” faces the death penalty in areas
under Sharia Islamic Law or up to 14 years in prison.
The bill, which passed a first reading
in July, is sponsored by Senator Domingo Obende and enjoys wide
support in the chamber.
“Opening the legal door to same sex
marriage in Nigeria will be morally and ideologically unsound when
other traditionally shunned institutions as incest remain illegal,”
Obende was quoted as saying by the Vanguard.
“The problem with same-sex marriage is not the slippery slope; the
primary assertion is that, just as most Nigerians should maintain
that incest is socially unacceptable practice, so too should they
disallow same-sex marriage.”
Obende added that the law was necessary
to protect children: “With the legalization of same-sex marriage,
every school in Nigeria would be required to teach that this
perversion is the moral equivalent of traditional marriage between a
man and a woman.”
“Instead of providing for father and
mother, the advent of same-sex marriage will create millions of
motherless and fatherless children and this is morally wrong.”