More on the extreme anti-gay legislation proposed in Nigeria. 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, and prosecute their friends or human rights activists.
Nigeria's senate voted today to mandate prison terms of more than a decade for those in same-sex relationships, reports South Africa's Mail & Guardian.
The Bill heads to Nigeria's House of Representatives, who have to approve the Bill and send it to President Goodluck Jonathan for his signature before it becomes law. However, public opinion—and lawmakers' calls for even harsher penalties for being gay—shows wide support for the measure in the deeply religious nation. "Such elements in society should be killed," senator Baba Dati said during the debate.
Under the measure, couples who marry could face up to 14 years in jail and witnesses or anyone who helps couples marry could be sentenced to 10 years behind bars. That's an increase over the Bill's initial penalties.
The proposed law also has drawn the interest of European Union countries, some of which already offer Nigeria's sexual minorities asylum based on gender identity. The British government also recently threatened to cut aid to African countries that violate the rights of gay and lesbian citizens. However, British aid remains quite small in oil-rich Nigeria, one of the top crude suppliers to the US.
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. In June 2011, the oil-rich West African nation lead opposition to the historic United Nations Human Rights Council resolution that condemned discrimination and violence against LGBT persons.
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 but the reality is much different for many Black gay South Africans. Brutal so-called "corrective rape" and murder are increasing against lesbians in South Africa's townships, as well as rape and attacks against gay men.