Skip to main content

Nigeria bans same-sex marriage

By Anna Maja Rappard and Nana Karikari-apau, CNN
updated 11:26 PM EST, Mon January 13, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signs the bill into law
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry slams the decision
  • The law reportedly imposes a 14-year prison sentence for same-sex marriage
  • Homosexuality is illegal in most African nations

(CNN) -- Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has signed into law a ban on same-sex marriage in Africa's most populous nation.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry slammed the decision Monday.

"Beyond even prohibiting same-sex marriage, this law dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association and expression for all Nigerians," he said in a statement.

"People everywhere deserve to live in freedom and equality. No one should face violence or discrimination for who they are or who they love."

Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, characterized the law as a "big setback for human rights for all Nigerians."

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the bill passed by the Senate at the end of last year introduces a 14-year prison sentence for people who are convicted of entering into a same-sex marriage or civil union.

It also reportedly makes it an offense to administer, witness or help at a same-sex marriage ceremony.

Fear rises in Russia's gay community
Uganda passes controversial anti-gay bill
India criminalizes gay sex

NAN said the law also forbids people from running gay clubs, societies, processions or meetings in Nigeria. The punishment for such acts is 10 years in prison, it said.

And the law even states that marriages or civil unions from outside the country will be void inside the country, according to NAN.

Last month, Uganda's parliament passed controversial legislation that would make some gay acts punishable by life in prison.

For the bill to become law, it would need the signature of that county's president, who has 30 days to make a decision.

Homosexuality is illegal in most African nations based on remnants of sodomy laws introduced during the British colonial era and perpetuated by cultural beliefs.

Punishments across the continent range from fines to years in prison.

Worldwide, a growing number of countries now allow same-sex marriage, the majority of them in Europe.

The Netherlands was the first, in 2001, and it was later joined by Belgium, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Portugal, Denmark and France. A bill to allow same-sex marriage in England and Wales is also now law, though it isn't expected to come into force until later this year.

French court rules mayors cannot block same-sex marriage

Argentina, Uruguay, Canada, Brazil, New Zealand and South Africa are the non-European countries in the group, according to the Pew Research Center.

Same-sex marriage is also legal in some parts of Mexico and the United States.

READ: Russia's 'anti-gay' law pushes gay community into shadows

READ: Thomas Hitzlsperger becomes first high-profile gay footballer

READ: Opinion: One day this week, I became an outlaw

CNN's Christian Purefoy, Marilia Brocchetto and Faith Karimi contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:42 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Successful launch of lunar orbiter, seen as a precursor for a planned mission to the surface of the moon, marks significant advance for the country's space program.
updated 3:15 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
updated 6:08 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
CEO's 30-min Putonghua chat is the perfect charm offensive for Facebook's last untapped market.
updated 11:45 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
updated 4:58 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
updated 10:14 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
updated 11:33 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
updated 12:07 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
updated 1:48 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
updated 5:59 AM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
updated 6:21 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT