R20 reader and Lagos resident "Kritz" sends this photo of the front page of today's edition of The Daily Sun, the largest circulation newspaper in Nigeria.
The headline warns "Homosexuals in Trouble" and reports on Tuesday's Senate vote on the extreme anti-gay legislation. The draconian bill proposed in Africa's most populous nation goes beyond merely banning same-sex marriage—which is already illegal—and would ban same sex relationships, ban same sex couples from living together, ban pro-LGBT websites or groups and prosecute their friends or human rights activists.
It also goes beyond the original bill to mandate even harsher punishment for these "offenses."
Senate yesterday brushed aside threats from Britain to cut aids to African countries that violate the rights of gays and lesbians by passing a bill which criminalises same sex marriage. The lawmakers unanimously approved a 14-year jail term for perpetrators, four years more than the recommended punishment from the Senator Umaru Dahiru-led Committee on Judiciary and Human Rights.
Sub-sections 2 and 3 also stipulate fines for any person who either operates or participates in gay marriages as well as spell out punishment and fines for witnesses. "Any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations or directly or indirectly make 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."
Under existing federal law, sodomy is punishable by jail. Twelve Islamic states in northern Nigeria have introduced the draconian Sharia law that has sentenced several gays to death. These sentences have never been enforced.
Since 2007, the National Assembly has twice proposed extreme anti-gay legislation, but the bills have stalled under international pressure. Previous versions of the bill banned gays from meeting, living together , reading LGBT websites or even going out to dinner.
At least 32 of Africa's 54 nations currently have laws penalizing same-sex relations or even sexuality. Three nations—Mauritania, Nigeria and Sudan—boast the death penalty for gays or same-sex activity. South Africa is the continent's only nation that guarantees LGBT protections and marriage equality.
State Department and White House have not commented on this legislation. The United States imports 10 percent of its oil from Nigeria. "The U.S. remains Nigeria's largest customer for crude oil, accounting for 40% of the country's total oil exports," per the Nigerian Ministry of Petroleum Resources.