Nigerian legislators have unanimously approved a bill outlawing gay marriage on pain of a lengthy jail sentence.
The bill declares that “persons that entered into a same-gender marriage or civil union contract commit an offence and are jointly liable on conviction to a term of 14 years’ imprisonment each”.
Politicians in the West African nation also voted to criminalise gay organisations and clubs, as well as public displays of affection between same sex couples. Penalties include up to 10 years in prison.
The bill is now expected to go to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan for ratification.
Rashidi Williams is director of local gay rights group Queer Alliance. He told AFP:
“[The bill] has the potential to encourage instigation of violence against gay people and lesbians. Being gay … is a right and that right must be respected and protected by lawmakers and the state.”
According to a report in The Guardian, the bill is the latest in a series of similar laws passed by African nations who believe they are standing up for traditional traditional values.
Photo of Nigerian flag by jbdodane via Flickr