It Gets Worse: Nigeria’s New Bill Criminalizes Displays of Affection, LGBT Advocacy

Jim Burroway

November 29th, 2011

The earlier report on Nigeria’s new proposed “anti-marriage” law barely scratched the surface in describing the increased penalties of the proposed legislation. The earlier report noted that “Under the measure, couples who marry could face up to 14 years in jail, and witnesses or anyone who helps couples marry could be sentenced to 10 years behind bars.” As bad as that is, a later report from the Associated Press shows that the measure is much worse than just that:

Other additions to the bill include making it illegal to register gay clubs or organizations, as well as criminalizing the “public show of same-sex amorous relationships directly or indirectly.” Those who violate those laws would face 10 years imprisonment as well.

…The bill also could target human rights and HIV-prevention programs run by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Nigeria, which has the world’s third-largest population of people living with HIV and AIDS. A U.S. Embassy spokeswoman declined to immediately comment.

The bill, which cleared the Nigerian Senate yesterday, must still earn approval from the lower House of Representatives and be signed by President Goodluck Jonathan before becoming law. That now looks likely. The Guardian notes, “Among rights activists, it has become a grim joke that homophobia is a rare issue that unites the country’s bickering Muslim north and Christian south.”

 The Guardian also identified some of the likely repercussions if that happens:

The new laws will have repercussions well beyond the gay community, said Damian Ugwu, an activist with the Lagos-based Social Justice Advocacy Initiative. Migrants who shared accommodation for economic reasons would be particularly vulnerable, he said. “From what I know of the Nigerian police, they look for every opportunity to extort money. With this bill, they won’t go looking for gay couples in the Sheraton – they’ll go just go around rounding up people who are poor or don’t know their rights,” he said.

In the north, policemen had visited hotels at night to seek out unmarried couples sleeping together. They demanded bribes or threatened to turn them in to the Islamic courts, Ugwu said.

Homosexuality is already criminalized in Nigeria, with a penalty of fourteen years’ imprisonment upon conviction. In the half of the country where Sharia Law is in effect, the penalty is death by stoning.

Ben In Oakland

November 29th, 2011

Well, at least you can drink the water in nigeria, there’s no starvation, and nigerian nationals never send out emails trying to con old people out of millions.


November 29th, 2011

Because winking at someone who’s the same gender as you would cause a nuclear war.

Tom in Lazybrook

November 29th, 2011

Please note that this bill bans RELIGIOUS freedom as well as it bans pro-Gay religious expression.

There are a few things that could be done.

1) Use the Maginski Act to instruct the State Department to ban entry to the USA of any Nigerian official or religious leader involved with the implementation and support of this law against human rights

2) Advocate the disallowance of charitable tax status for any donation to groups giving money to ‘organizations involved in the denial of basic human rights in Nigeria’. This should specifically include religious groups such as the Anglican Mission in America.

3) An immediate cutoff of PEPFAR funding to Nigeria that isn’t open to Gay affirming groups in Nigeria

4) An immediate granting of asylum to Gay Nigerians. The number of Nigerian visas should not be increased; but rather Gay Nigerians should go to the front of the line.

All of these may be available using existing US laws.


November 29th, 2011

Is there a verbatim copy of the bill anywhere? It would be useful to read it online if it is available.

Jim Burroway

November 29th, 2011

I’m keeping my eyes open for a copy. If I find one I’ll post it immediately.

The earlier draft is here, but that’s not very useful now.

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