As Africa’s most populous nation moves forward in its effort to ban same-sex marriage, activists say they fear even more violence and discrimination towards homosexuals.
Under a new bill drawing increased support in the Nigerian legislature, same-sex couples who marry could face up to three years in jail, and witnesses or anyone who helps couples marry could face five years in jail. “If this bill passes into law, the Nigerian government will be sanctioning even greater discrimination and violence against an already vulnerable group,” said Graeme Reid, LGBT rights director at New York-based Human Rights Watch. Other activists say they are worried about setbacks in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, as Nigeria has the world’s third-highest population of HIV/AIDS infected people.
Homosexuality is already technically illegal in Nigeria. A group of international human rights organizations sent a letter opposing the bill to legislative leaders, the Nigerian National Human Rights Commission, and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who would be responsible for signing the bill into law.