The European Parliament has condemned Nigeria's anti-gay marriage bill which, if passed, would put lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the country at serious risk of violence and arrest.
The Same Gender Marriage Prohibition Bill was proposed in 2011 and has since been amended by the Nigerian Senate to punish those in a same-sex partnership with 14 years’ imprisonment and anyone ‘aiding or abetting’ such unions with 10 years in prison.
Tourists or humanitarian aid workers, as well as Nigerian citizens, who are in a same-sex marriage or civil partnership are at risk of arrest and prosecution. Those working in embassies but without diplomatic protection, such as technical staff, will also be at risk.
The European Parliament yesterday (15 March) adopted a resolution, calling for the African country to reject the bill and to decriminalize homosexuality.
Under the current law, gay people can face a jail term and, in some cases, death by stoning.
Michael Cashman MEP, co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, said: 'Nigeria is already among the world’s top oppressors of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
'Why such a law now? Nigeria needs to follow the example of countries like Rwanda, Kenya or South Africa, which prove African nations don’t need to persecute the vulnerable in order to strive.'
Intergroup's Ulrike Lunacek MEP assured those being persecuted in Nigeria that they have the European Parliament’s full backing.
'No group has ever called for same-sex marriage in Nigeria,' she said.
'Our fellow lawmakers should stop obsessing about citizens’ private lives, and start tackling the dire socio-economic situation in Nigeria.'