Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signs anti-gay bill into law

Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan secretly signed the 2011 Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill into law. The bill was signed on the 7th of January 2014 and almost two weeks later, he has made no public appearance about the matter. 

The bill states that persons who enter into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union commit an offense and are each liable on conviction to a term of 14 years in prison.

Jonathan’s policies and management during the last quarter of 2013 has been growing steadily unpopular so this bill could indeed be a political move in his favor for the 2015 up coming elections.

According to Al Jazeera, Jonathan’s spokesman, Reuben Abatim stated he can “confirm that the president has signed the bill into law. More than 90 percent of Nigerians are opposed to same-sex marriage. So, the law is in line with our cultural and religious beliefs as a people. And I think that this law is made for a people and what [the] government has done is consistent with the preference of its environment.”

Since this bill was signed Amnesty International urged President Jonathan to reject the bill, calling it “discriminatory” and warning of “catastrophic” consequences for Nigeria’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The international community has already begun minor but significant sanctions against Nigeria, as the president’s visit to Canada, resulting from an invitation by Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, was cancelled (Vanguard).

Majority of anti-gay bill supporters see homosexuality through a religious lens, it is a concept that is considered ‘taboo’ and against religious norms, however these two fundamental questions remain, is Nigeria a religious or secular state? and in terms of human rights, what does this law mean for minority sexual groups in Nigeria?

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