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Nigeria Says Same-Sex Union Ban Consistent With Nation’s Beliefs

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Jan. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to sign a law banning same-sex marriage and support for gay groups is consistent with the West African nation’s beliefs, his spokesman said.

“More than 90 percent of Nigerians do not embrace same-sex relationships,” presidential spokesman Reuben Abati said yesterday by phone from Abuja. “What the President has done is consistent with our beliefs and our environment.”

While the final version of the bill hasn’t been made public, drafts passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives include penalties of 14 years in jail for anyone in a same-sex marriage and a 10-year sentence for showing affection “in same-sex amorous relationships” or for supporting gay advocacy groups.

The law has drawn criticism from the U.S., the U.K. and the European Union.

“Beyond even prohibiting same-sex marriage, this law dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association, and expression for all Nigerians,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement yesterday. “No one should face violence or discrimination for who they are or who they love.” The law undermines human rights provided for citizens in the West African nation’s 1999 constitution, he said.

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.

“If the law has the same content as what the bill had in past versions, then we have a concern,” Olumide Makanjuola, the executive director of The Initiative for Equal Rights, which lobbies on behalf of sexual minorities in Nigeria, said by phone from Lagos.

To contact the reporter on this story: Yinka Ibukun in Lagos at yibukun@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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