U.S. Criticizes Nigerian Bill Criminalizing Same-Sex Marriage

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry criticized a Nigerian law ratified by President Goodluck Jonathan banning gay marriage, saying it amounts to an infringement of basic human rights.

The U.S. is “deeply concerned” by the enactment of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, Kerry said in a statement e-mailed from Washington yesterday.

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

The legislation approved by Nigeria’s parliament and Senate includes penalties of as long as 14 years in jail for anyone in a same-sex relationship and a decade in prison for witnessing or aiding a gay union, according to a statement on Amnesty International’s website.

Nigeria joins other African nations in restricting gay rights. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said he’s considering whether to sign into law a bill passed by Parliament in December making homosexual acts punishable by life in prison. Cameroon has jailed “dozens” of people suspected of being gay or lesbian under a law that sentences those having same-sex relationships to as long as five years in prison, according to Human Rights Watch.

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