Leadership (Abuja)

28 September 2011

Nigeria: Homosexual Marriages Attract Jail Term, Senate's Proposed Law

Bad news for gays and lesbians. Anybody wishing to contract a marriage with another person of the same sex had better leave the Nigerian shores or risk three years in jail.

Also, any person or group of persons who witnesses, abets and aids the solemnisation of a same gender marriage contract may get five years imprisonment or a fine of N50,000.

These were the highpoints of a bill for an act to prohibit marriage of persons of same sex and solemnization of same and other related matters, which scaled the crucial second reading in the Senate yesterday.

However, the bill, which was sponsored by Senator Domingo Obende and 13 other senators nearly suffered still-birth when Senator Eta Enang (PDP, Akwa Ibom) argued that the Criminal Code has already criminalised the act.

The Senate President saved the day when he allowed the bill to proceed.

His position was that the bill should be allowed to go through the second reading and, during the committee stage, people who had observations against the bill could table same.

Subsequently, after a very exhaustive debate, the bill passed the second reading and was sent to the Standing Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, as well as the Committee on Health and Interior.

In his lead debate, Sen. Obende observed that same-sex marriage cannot be allowed on both moral and religious grounds.

"Even the Muslim religion forbids it, Christianity forbids it and the African traditional religion forbids it," he noted.

He argued that same-sex marriage should not be allowed because it would lead to the breakdown of society.

While defining marriage as the institution where man and woman are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining family, the distinguished senator noted that by admitting homosexual and lesbian relationship to the privilege of the married state we would be devaluing and weakening the duties and the sense of obligation that marriage entails. He stated: "No same sex marriage is best.

The problem associated with it causes more sexually transmitted diseases, more childless relationships, more mental health problems and other major social problems, especially deprivation at old age."

Other senators who supported the bill included senators Victor Lar, George Thompson Sekibo, Ajayi Boroface, Gbenga Kaka, Emmanuel Bwacha and Remi Tinubu. Lar noted that, from the religious point of view, same-sex marriage was ungodly and satanic and desecrates the institution of marriage as ordained by God.

He said the whole essence of marriage as ordained by God was for procreation. If same-sex marriage is allowed, she wondered, who would fill the world tomorrow and who would replace them in the future as senators?

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