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Nigeria Outlaws Same-Sex Relationships

Colin Hale |
January 13, 2014 | 2:09 p.m. PST

Executive Producer

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan/via Flickr Creative Commons
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan/via Flickr Creative Commons
Nigeria's president quietly signed legislation last week that outlaws same-sex relationships in the west African country, with violators facing imprisonment.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed the legislation on January 7 but the law was not announced by his government until six days later. The president's spokesman told Al Jazeera that the law was consistent with public opinion on the issue.

"More than 90 percent of Nigerians are opposed to same-sex marriage," spokesman Reuben Abatim said. "So, the law is in line with our cultural and religious beliefs as people."

The law, formally known as the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, prohibits gay people from meeting each other and also outlaws the operation or attendance of gay clubs and gay organizations. Same-sex couples who enter into a marriage contract or civil union could be imprisoned for up to 14 years.

In response to the new law, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement on Monday that the United States is "deeply concerned" and that Nigeria's new law "dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association, and expression for all Nigerians."

Human rights groups like Amnesty International have also called the new law "discriminatory" and "catastrophic" for the LGBT community in the west African nation, where a British colonial-era law outlawing homosexuality is still in effect.  

Read more about Nigeria's anti-gay law at Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera America, and Politico.

Reach Executive Producer Colin Hale here. Follow him on Twitter.



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