This Day (Lagos)

14 November 2012

Nigeria: House Dares Western Nations On Same Sex Marriage

Abuja — The House of Representatives Tuesday dared western nations and their donor agencies, advising them to keep their grants, aids and other financial assistance if the new condition for Nigeria to access such credit facilities was for the National Assembly to legalise same gender marriages.

The resolution came as the lawmakers debated and passed through the second reading a bill prohibiting the solemnisation of marriages or civil unions between persons of the same sex in Nigeria.

A similar bill was passed by the Senate during the sixth Assembly but the House could not concur with the upper chamber before the tenure of the last parliament elapsed.

The bill was therefore returned to the House in the current session for re-consideration.

In the lead debate yesterday, House Majority Leader, Hon. Mulikat Akande-Adeola, said the practice of same sex marriage was alien to the culture and sense of morality of the African society.

According to her, the practice which has gained a lot of grounds in some western countries, was against the norms and traditions of the various ethnic and religious groups in Nigeria.

Chairman, House Committee on Aviation, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, said the bill needed to be passed to send a strong signal to the western world that Nigeria was not prepared to sacrifice her moral and ethical values for the sake of foreign aids and donations.

Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Hon Nnenna Ukeje, described the situation as a competition between the religious and moral principles of Nigerians and the country's obligation to the international community.

Minority Leader of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, said the groundswell of opposition against same sex marriage in Nigeria was instructive because of the convergence of morality and legality on the issue.

Gbajabiamila who described the phenomenon of same gender marriage as both illegal and immoral however observed that there might not be a need to enact a separate law prohibiting the practice as the Marriage Act in Nigeria does not recognise such unions.

Chairman, House Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who also spoke in favour of the bill, said same gender marriage was like a human rights advocacy carried to the extreme. She recalled the scenario in the past where some civil society groups and non-governmental organisations staged protests against the bill.

On the other hand, Hon Peace Nnaji attributed the emergence of gay and lesbian unions in Nigeria partly on the reluctance of men to take up young women as wives.

Nnaji said the problem could be reduced if young people who have come of age go into lawful marriage unions instead of succumbing to some of these alien practices.

Other lawmakers who contributed to the debate argued that the bid by the so-called advanced countries to export same sex marriage into Nigeria under the guise of protecting human rights and freedom of association was reprehensible and unacceptable.

The bill has been referred to the Committee of the Whole for further legislative work.

It will not require a public hearing since one had been held during the earlier consideration of the bill in the previous session.

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