Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a bill on Monday that criminalizes same-sex relationships, the presidency said, defying pressure from Western governments to respect gay and lesbian rights.
The bill, which contains penalties of up to 14 years in prison and bans gay marriage, same-sex "amorous relationships" and membership of gay rights groups, was passed by the national assembly last May but Jonathan had delayed signing it into law.
Two similar bills have been proposed since 2006 but failed to make it through parliament.
Sodomy is already illegal in Nigeria, so the actual criminalization of gay marriages, while reprehensible, shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Really, the country’s attacks on free speech and association should be much more of a concern right now:
Any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison.
That’s some scary stuff right there. Much like Russia’s ban on “gay propaganda” making it next to impossible to legally advocate for gays having the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts, this part of the law essentially criminalizes any sort of organizational efforts to ultimately overturn the law or attempt to change public opinion so that Nigerians don’t see homosexuals as enemies.
Meanwhile, here in the states, Indiana is considering a constitutional ban on recognizing same-sex marriage. Were it to actually move forward and be approved by voters in November, it would be the first time since North Carolina did so in May 2012 that voters rejected recognition.