Nigeria: Government Seeks "Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act"

Via Black Looks:
This came through on Friday evening via Human Rights Watch - will publish more in the next few days. Meanwhile:

President Olusegun Obasanjo has written the National Assembly urging the parliament to ban same sex marriage or homosexuality in the country.
The President’s letter was read on the floor of the House of Representatives by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon Austin Opara, who presided over yesterday’s plenary session.
The letter introduced to the House an executive Bill seeking to ban same sex relationship in the country. It was entitled “Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, 2006”.
Opara said while announcing the receipt of the letter to the members at the commencement of yesterday’s proceedings that the President urges the National Assembly to give expeditious consideration and passage to the bill. “This is because the problem has become topical and embarrassing in recent times”. ...

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Human Rights Watch

HRW: Letter to Obasanjo
March 22, 2006

Dear President Obasanjo,

As human rights organizations based in Nigeria, on the African continent, and internationally, we write with deep concern over a proposed bill that would introduce criminal penalties for relationships and marriage ceremonies between persons of the same sex as well as for public advocacy or associations supporting the rights of lesbian and gay people. The legislation proposed by Minister of Justice Bayo Ojo not only contravenes internationally recognized protections against discrimination, as well as the basic rights to freedom of expression, conscience, association, and assembly, but also undermines Nigeria’s struggle to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Proposed law violates fundamental freedoms under the Nigerian Constitution

The broad and sweeping provisions of this proposed legislation could lead to the imprisonment of individuals solely for their actual or imputed sexual orientation in a number of ways, including for consensual sexual relations in private, advocacy of lesbian and gay rights, or public expression of their sexual identity. Anyone imprisoned under this law would be a prisoner of conscience. We urge you to disavow this proposal which contradicts fundamental freedoms under the Nigerian Constitution, international human rights law and standards, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. ...

Full text, with list of signatories, at the link. See also: Obasanjo Must Withdraw Bill to Criminalize Gay Rights