Earlier this year, the Ugandan parliament re-opened debate on its now internationally infamous “Kill the Gays” bill. Now, we can add Nigeria to the list of countries proposing to ban being gay. The Guardian reports that a new bill making it illegal to marry someone of the same sex, or to witness such a wedding – the punishment would be a decade or more in prison.
Under the proposed law passed by the Senate, same-sex couples who marry could face up to 14 years each in prison. Witnesses or anyone who helps a marriage could be sentenced to 10 years. The bill also punishes the “public show of same-sex amorous relationships directly or indirectly” with 10 years in prison.
A newly added power, punishing those found guilty of organising, operating or supporting gay clubs, organisations and meetings with a 10-year sentence, worries advocates in Nigeria.
So now, being an ally could be a crime.
The Guardian notes that this last measure has public health workers concerned, as it could interfere with HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs, which view men who have sex with men as a high-risk group. Nigeria is Africa’s second-largest HIV positive population – more than three million Nigerians are HIV positive. And, as the article goes on to explain, the passage of this homophobic bill could compel countries that send huge amounts of aid money to Nigeria to pull their funding on principle.