Nigeria and Uganda adopt harsh anti-LGBT laws in same week

Friday, 20 December 2013

On Tuesday 17 December, the Senate of Nigeria adopted the ‘Same-sex marriage (prohibition) bill’, criminalising displays of affection, people in a same-sex marriage (including tourists), and anyone arguing in favour of LGBT people’s human rights. Today, the Ugandan Parliament also adopted the ‘Anti-homosexuality bill’, amplifying the criminalisation of LGBT people.

Both bills now await the presidential assent.

Nigeria’s ‘Same-sex marriage (prohibition) bill’

Nigerian flagThe ‘Same-sex marriage (prohibition) bill’ would foresee up to 14 years in prison for anyone married to a person of the same sex, and up to 10 years’ imprisonment for witnesses of a same-sex marriage.

The law would go further by sentencing “any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisation, or directly or indirectly make public show of same sex amorous relationship” to up to 10 years’ imprisonment. This would criminalise human rights advocates too.

The new restrictions add to existing laws, which already punish consensual same-sex activity with 14 years in prison, or death in 12 northern states.

Uganda’s ‘Anti-homosexuality bill’

Ugandan FlagThe Ugandan Parliament adopted a bill toughening punishment for consensual same-sex activity foreseeing up to life imprisonment.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill further bans the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ with a maximum of 7 years imprisonment. This will have great consequences for human rights defenders active in the LGBT field.

The bill also punishes same-sex marriage with life imprisonment.

The Penal Code already provided for penalties up to 7 years in prison for “attempts” and up to life imprisonment for “acts against the order of nature.”

Previous drafts of the bill included the death penalty for recidivists which led to it being dubbed the ‘Kill the gays’ bill.

Louis Michel MEP, Co-President of the EU-ACP Parliamentary Assembly, and Member of the LGBT intergroup reacted: “I am appalled by the adoption of these bills which means a further detoriation of the human rights situation for LGBT people in the respective countries.”

“These laws are very dangerous and I call upon the EU Member States and our High Representative Catherine Ashton to urge both Presidents to veto them.”

Ulrike Lunacek MEP and Michael Cashman MEP, Co-Presidents of the LGBT Intergroup added: “These developments are extremely worrying and endanger the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Uganda and Nigeria.”

“We call on the international community to denounce the tendency of increasing and vehemently dangerous state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia.”

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