Kerry Criticizes Passage of Nigeria’s Anti-Gay Bill, US Concerned
Secretary of State John Kerry released a statement Monday in response to news that Nigeria passed the "Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2013," which was reportedly signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan the same day.
The new law bans homosexuality in the western African nation by imposing hefty prison sentences on anyone involved in a same-sex relationship or anyone who belongs to a gay organization.
The press statement from Secretary Kerry’s office reads:
The United States is deeply concerned by Nigeria’s enactment of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act.
Beyond even prohibiting same sex marriage, this law dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association, and expression for all Nigerians.
Moreover, it is inconsistent with Nigeria’s international legal obligations and undermines the democratic reforms and human rights protections enshrined in its 1999 Constitution.
People everywhere deserve to live in freedom and equality. No one should face violence or discrimination for who they are or who they love.
We join with those in Nigeria who appeal for the protection of their fellow citizens’ fundamental freedoms and universal human rights.
News that the draconian law had passed was confirmed Monday.
"I can confirm that the president has signed the bill into law," Goodluck Jonathan’s spokesman Reuben Abati told AFP, without specifying a date but adding that it happened earlier this month.
Amnesty International urged Jonathan to reject the bill, calling it "discriminatory" and warning of "catastrophic" consequences for Nigeria’s LGBT citizenry. News Naij reports that the bill’s assent was void of fanfare to reduce the diplomatic tension it will likely attract.
According to Al Jazeera, under the terms of the law, anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage or civil union can be sentenced to 14 years in prison while any such partnerships entered into abroad are deemed "void."
The law also warns that anyone who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations or who directly or indirectly makes a public show of a same-sex relationship will break the law. Punishment is up to 10 years in prison.