US condemns Nigeria move over Gay Marriage

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GayThe United States has criticised Nigeria for approving a legislation that criminalises same-sex marriages.

In a Statement released by the State Department Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the US government was “deeply concerned” by Nigeria’s new law which “dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association and expression for all Nigerians.” Mr Kerry said the move would curtail basic human rights.

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On Monday, Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan said through an aide that he had approved a bill banning gay marriage and same-sex partnerships.

“I can confirm that the president has signed the bill into law,” Goodluck Jonathan’s spokesman Reuben Abati told the press. Abati said Jonathan signed off on the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2013 because it was consistent with the attitudes of most people towards homosexuality in the West African nation.

The statement immediately sparked international condemnation.

Mr Kerry said the act “is inconsistent with Nigeria’s international legal obligations and undermines the democratic reforms and human rights protections enshrined in its 1999 constitution.”

“People everywhere deserve to live in freedom and equality. No one should face violence or discrimination for who they are or who they love,” the statement said.

STIFF PENALTIES

Under the new law, anyone in a same-sex marriage or union would face up to 14 years in prison, with such partnerships reached overseas considered void in Nigeria.

The Obama administration has been highly critical of what it terms as “unfair treatment of men and women on the basis of whom they love.”

Last year, the United States urged the Uganda government to stop the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill approved by the country’s parliament.

“We condemn legislation that criminalises consensual sexual conduct between adults or criminalises simply being of a particular sexual orientation or gender identity,” a State Department spokesman told the Nation in December.

The latest statement from the State Department echoes President Obama’s characterisation a wave sweeping through the African continent as “odious.”

“Uganda’s judiciary has repeatedly supported the human rights of all Ugandan citizens, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” the State Department added.

The opposition to the bill expressed by the US on Friday is consistent with the Obama’s administration outspoken advocacy on a worldwide basis of the right of lesbians, gays and bisexual and transgender persons.-nation.co.ke

Members of the Ugandan gay community mourn at the funeral of murdered activist David Kato near Mataba, on January 28, 2011. The United States has criticised Nigeria for approving a legislation that criminalises same-sex marriages. Photo/FILE

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