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Anti-gay law signed in Nigeria

By on January 14, 2014

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a bill on Monday that criminalizes same-sex relationships.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry slammed the decision. “People everywhere deserve to live in freedom and equality. No one should face violence or discrimination for who they are or who they love.”
Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, characterized the law as a “big setback for human rights for all Nigerians.”

The bill, which contains penalties of up to 14 years in prison and bans gay marriage, same-sex “amorous relationships” and membership of gay rights groups, was passed by the national assembly last May but Jonathan had delayed signing it into law.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) the law also forbids people from running gay clubs, societies, processions or meetings in Nigeria. The punishment for such acts is 10 years in prison, it said.

As in much of sub-Saharan Africa, anti-gay sentiment and persecution of homosexuals is rife in Nigeria, so the new legislation is likely to be popular.

Under existing Nigerian federal law, sodomy is punishable by jail, but this bill legislates for a much broader crackdown on homosexuals and lesbians, who already live a largely underground existence.

Homosexuality is illegal in most African nations based on remnants of sodomy laws introduced during the British colonial era and perpetuated by cultural beliefs.

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