The European Parliament this week adopted a resolution calling on Nigerian lawmakers to withdraw a bill that would punish those in a same-sex unions with 14 years in prison.
[Parliament] Calls for the abolition of current legislation criminalising homosexuality, in some cases making it punishable by stoning; calls on the Nigerian Parliament to reject the ‘Same Gender Marriage Prohibition Bill’ which, if passed, would put LGBT people – both Nigerian nationals and foreigners – at serious risk of violence and arrest;
The bill, known as the Same Gender Marriage Prohibition Bill, would also criminalize ‘aiding or abetting’ such unions with 10 years in prison. It would also leave open to prosecution tourists or humanitarian aid workers who are in a same-sex marriages or civil partnerships.The legislation also appears to make people who work in embassies but do so without diplomatic protections — such as technical staff –vulnerable.
Michael Cashman MEP, Co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, commented: “Nigeria is already among the world’s top oppressors of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Why such a law now? Nigeria needs to follow the example of countries like Rwanda, Kenya or South Africa, which prove African nations don’t need to persecute the vulnerable in order to strive.”
Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-president of the LGBT Intergroup, continued: “Our Nigerian sisters and brothers have the European Parliament’s full solidarity in these difficult times. No group has ever called for same-sex marriage in Nigeria; our fellow lawmakers should stop obsessing about citizens’ private lives, and start tackling the dire socio-economic situation in Nigeria.”
Currently, Nigeria’s federal criminal code penalizes so-called homosexual conduct, while in states that have implemented Sharia law consensual male homosexual conduct can be punishable by death. Women may be flogged and also may serve a six-month prison sentence. The full reach of these penalties is rarely invoked but the threat remains.
Due to the work of various international and domestic human rights bodies, the country’s National Assembly has so far been unable to enact stauncher provisions, though this new push to further criminalize same-sex marriages certainly indicates the Assembly has not stopped trying.