by ‘Ifreke Inyang
Yesterday, the Senate passed a bill that criminalises same-sex marriage. The bill also bans the public display of affection between couples who are gay. Before its passed into law, the bill must be voted on by the House of Representatives and signed by President Goodluck Jonathan.
According to the bill, anyone who enters into same-sex marriages or civil unions will be given a 14-year jail term. Even those who support the union will be punished. Those who aid or abet gay marriages could receive up to 10 years, as well as “any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations” – a clause that is obviously targeted at gay advocacy organisations.
David Cameron, the Prime Minister of Britain had warned that his country will consider withdrawing aid from Nigeria if they go ahead with the bill. In a veiled response, the Senate President, David Mark said: “Our values are our values. If there is any country that does not want to give us aid or assistance just because we want to hold on to our values, that country can keep her aid and assistance.” Senator Mark said no country had the right to interfere in the way Nigerians made their own laws.
This news comes as a hit to the gay community especially after gay activists protested outside the Senate, calling for the bill to be dropped.