Nigeria passes anti-gay marriage bill, criminalizes same-sex displays of affection

Nigeria is a country that may be evenly divided between Christians and Muslims but is nearly universally opposed to homosexuality. In the areas in Nigeria’s north where Islamic Shariah law is enforced, gays and lesbians can face death by stoning.

Intentious - Rashidi Williams 25-year-old gay Nigerian, now an identified criminal seeking asylum - Controversial News  Intentious - Rashidi Williams 25-year-old gay Nigerian, now an identified criminal seeking asylum - Controversial News  Intentious - Rashidi Williams 25-year-old gay Nigerian, now an identified criminal seeking asylum - Controversial News

When a gang of men ambushed Rashidi Williams and a male friend earlier this year, the 25-year-old gay Nigerian was too afraid to report the attack to police or even to his family.

Doing so would only create more problems, he says, in this country where legislators are about to criminalise homosexuality.

Here in the megacity of Africa’s most populous nation, Williams says that gay marriage is, however, the last thing on the minds of many gay and lesbian Nigerians who fear physical danger in this conservative country.

“I took myself to the hospital but couldn’t say why I had been beaten up because that would have started another set of discrimination for me,” said Williams, who hurt his shoulder blade in the attack. “These things are so underreported in Nigeria. It doesn’t mean they don’t exist … People are getting killed.”

Under the proposed law, couples who marry could face up to 14 years each in prison. 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, which lawmakers proposed during a debate Tuesday televised live from the National Assembly in Nigeria’s capital Abuja.

Other additions to the bill include making it illegal to register gay clubs or organizations, as well as criminalizing the “public show of same-sex amorous relationships directly or indirectly.” Those who violate those laws would face 10 years imprisonment as well.

The bill also could target human rights and HIV-prevention programs run by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Nigeria, which has the world’s third-largest population of people living with HIV and AIDS.


Activists fear that discrimination and violence will only increase now that the bill has been passed in the Nigerian senate.

“If this bill passes into law, the Nigerian government will be sanctioning even greater discrimination and violence against an already vulnerable group,” said Graeme Reid one month earlier. He is the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights director at New York-based Human Rights watch, and will soon be considered a criminal if he sets foot in Nigeria.

Intentious - Nigeria passes anti-gay laws criminalising homosexuals like this man - Controversial News

The bill, now much more wide-ranging than its initial draft, must be passed by Nigeria’s House of Representatives and signed by President Goodluck Jonathan before becoming law. Public opinion betrays the widespread support for the law in this deeply religious nation.

Meanwhile, Democratic nations find the Nigerian mindset appalling and disturbing in the 21st century. The EU is now granting asylum to gay and lesbian Nigerians while Great Britain threatened to cut aid to countries that violate the rights of gay and lesbian citizens.

Such elements in society should be killed!” said Senator Baba-Ahmed Yusuf Datti of the opposition party Congress for Progressive Change, drawing some murmurs of support from the gallery.

Sadly, things are about to get a lot more hostile for people like Rashidi Williams and all Nigerian residents who have joined activist/protest group

While it’s a long-shot, we urge as many of you as possible to stand on the side of human rights by heading over to and signing the petition which is to be brought to President Goodluck Jonathan’s attention at the signing of at least 70,000 names.

Senate President David Mark acknowledged the nation would face criticism, however, would not bow to international pressure.

“Anybody can write to us, but our values are our values. If there is any country that does not want to give us aid or assistance, just because we hold on very firmly to our values, that country can (keep) their assistance. No country has a right to interfere in the way we make our own laws.”

Intentious - - Nigerian criminalising gay and lesbian laws

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Categories: Beliefs, Morals, Crime, Multiculturalism, Politics, Law

Author:Andrew Beato

CEO, Chief Editor and founder of Intentious. Passionate comment enthusiast, amateur philosopher, Quora contributor, audiobook and general knowledge addict.

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10 Comments on “Nigeria passes anti-gay marriage bill, criminalizes same-sex displays of affection”

  1. January 10, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    Unfortunately the anti gay attitude found all across Africa, in Southern Africa ‘corrective rape’ of lesbian women occurs and in Uganda a couple of years ago the government tried to pass a law of ‘aggravated homosexuality’, which was defined as repeated and deliberate acts of homosexuality – the death penalty was the proposed punishment. There are many more examples out there.

    I see the attitude in Africa as a mix of traditional beliefs, religious influence (both Christian and Muslim) and fear of the unknown. The gay movement, and African attitudes to it, is certainly not helped when the Pope comes out with statements like this… – I would have thought the best environment for a child to grow up in is one where his or her parents love and care for them, whether they are gay, lesbian, bi, tri, polygamous or otherwise. In my experience working and traveling in Africa it is easier to be atheist in Africa than gay. I also wonder how they will police ‘displays of affection’, given it is common for men to hold hands in Africa, how will they define whether it is just boys being boys or boys being gay..?

    Australia and the rest of the West certainly cannot look down our noses at ‘primitive’ Africa either, there is still a long way to go in our cultures in fully accepting gays and lesbians, all you have to do is take a look at the anti-gay marriage debate going on at the moment, which is laced with conscious and subconscious religious undertones and talk of ‘traditional’ values and beliefs.

    Pressure from the US helped in Uganda to eventually see the bill pulled, hopefully the same can be done in Nigeria. Sadly, gays and lesbians the world over have a long way to go in gaining public acceptance for being themselves, wanting to marry the person they love and doing everything else you and I take for granted.

    • January 11, 2012 at 11:21 am #

      Do you think that in order for societies to grow more accepting of gays and lesbians, religious apathy has to grow, like a somewhat inverse relationship?

      • January 12, 2012 at 4:57 am #

        Not necessarily, I believe one can still be religious and accepting of the freedom of gays and lesbians to be themselves, including getting married. I think it was summed up well by Randa Abdel-Fattah on the final episode of Q and A last year, ‘I don’t believe in gay marriage either, as a devout Muslim, but I think that in a secular, democratic society, I can’t sustain that argument because my religious beliefs can’t be imposed on others…’

    • January 11, 2012 at 11:23 am #

      Without saying it, the Pope is pretty much saying that he believes if we legalise and accept gay marriage, more and more people will somehow “turn gay” until populations decrease. What a weird assumption.

  2. If person want to no gay, how can person no
    May 25, 2012 at 5:33 am #

    I want to no gay how can i no

  3. Nkenna
    June 2, 2012 at 8:17 am #

    Homosexuality? Nonsense not in my country,international law can say what they want but an abomination is an abomination let the great britain take their aid back to their queen!How dare you try to upset the forces of nature??

    • February 2, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

      Pretending that homosexuality doesn’t exist in your country and outlawing it like a crime, IS upsetting the forces of nature!

  4. sambo
    February 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

    African do not want this so called gay of yours , so please hold it in your country , we are ok the way our God keep us , you people have known who we are , then why can’t you people be what you are and lets be what we are ??, when a new Engineer come up from africa , all you people do is to take him or her final , and look for a bad thing that is not helpful to us and in force to us ,if it’s about good plans for our future why not build 20 company’s in African country’s ???, so please your gift of gay is not for us and will never be for us , thank you

    • February 2, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

      Wow, Sambo, I am surprised that you are using the Internet with such a view of homosexuality as “a gift of gay [from] your country”.


  1. Nigeria wants to ban the gay ( petition) » A Plague Of Mice - April 6, 2012

    […] Nigeria passes anti-gay marriage bill, criminalizes same-sex displays of affection ( […]

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