by Paul Osas
President Goodluck Jonathan on January 7, 2014 signed the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2013 into law.
In the assent note to the bill, Pres. Jonathan wrote, “I certify that this Bill has been carefully compared by me with the decision reached by the National Assembly and found by me to be true and correct decision of the Houses and is in accordance with the provisions of the Acts Authentication Act Cap. A2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. I assent.”
Reportedly, some foreign embassies were shocked by the development leading to ‘curious’ inquiries from the Federal Government. No one expected the president to act so fast in signing the bill considering the subtle threats from some of Nigeria’s key partners.
Also, Amnesty International had urged Pres. Jonathan to reject the bill, calling it “discriminatory” and warning of “catastrophic” consequences for Nigeria’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
However, Pres. Jonathan insists there is no going back.
“I can confirm that the president has signed the bill into law,” Pres. Jonathan’s spokesman Reuben Abati told AFP. He said that, “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.”
According to the bill, the gays in Nigeria risk a 14-year jail term if they do not retrace their steps and renounce such marriage. Also, any person who operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations directly or indirectly will earn 10-year imprisonment. Those who administer witness, abet or aid the solemnization of a same sex marriage are also going to bag 10-year jail term.