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Nigeria Bill Banning Same-Sex Marriage Awaits President’s Assent

May 31 (Bloomberg) -- Nigeria’s proposed law to make same-sex marriage punishable by imprisonment is awaiting President Goodluck Jonathan’s signature after it was approved by both houses of parliament.

The House of Representatives yesterday passed the bill that makes same-sex unions a criminal offense punishable by as many as 14 years in prison, Victor Ogene, a lower-house spokesman, said by phone from the capital, Abuja. Those who witness, aid or abet such unions as well as those who operate gay clubs and societies, and engage in public displays of same-sex affection would be punishable by as many as 10 years jail. The Senate passed a similar bill in November 2011.

“It’s been synchronized with the Senate’s position,” Ogene said. “It goes to the president to be signed. Within a week they should put the papers together.”

Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer and most populous country with more than 160 million people almost evenly split between a mainly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south. Signing the bill into law may draw the displeasure of the U.S. and European Union countries critical of the suppression of gay rights in Africa. Lawmakers can also override the president’s veto if he refuses to make the bill a law.

Presidential spokesman Reuben Abati’s mobile phone was switched off when Bloomberg News attempted to reach him for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Maram Mazen in Abuja at mmazen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

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