It’s back: the Nigerian Senate has reintroduced a bill providing criminal penalties for engaging in, solemnizing, or “aiding and abetting” a same-sex marriage. Never mind that Nigeria already has a sodomy law, surviving from British colonialism, which provides draconian penalties for any same-sex sexual activity. If this bill passes, it’s going to be worse rather than better if you undertake sex under the penumbra of marriage. Go figure.
This is a slightly stripped-down version of an original bill brought forward by the then President in 2006, out of pure political opportunism. It was promoted in those days by Nigeria’s Anglican archbishop Peter Akinola, a US-supported right-winger trying to use the issue of homosexuality to bring about a church schism for his own opportunistic reasons. The proposal never attracted quite the international outrage that the only-slightly worse legislation in Uganda drew, perhaps because Nigeria in its vastness is simply too confusing a proposition for many Western activists. It was defeated then through the courage of Nigerian activists who fought it tooth and nail–including finding their way to the capital, Abuja, on 48 hours’ notice for a last-minute parliamentary hearing that had been scheduled deliberately to exclude them.
It’s going to take all their hard work to beat back the bill again this time. Send your moral or, if you’ve got any, material support to Nigeria’s International Centre for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights and the Initiative for Equal Rights, which will be spearheading the fight against this disastrous proposal.