Gay marriage in Nigeria is something unimaginable. Homosexuality is prohibited here and being even in a couple with a same sex partner can turn into a big disaster for an individual. While in many parts of the world same sex marriages are eventually becoming a kind of normal thing, in Nigeria they are a risky trick. Let’s see what the law says in this regard.
The way homosexuality is treated in Nigeria in accordance with the law
Once upon a time, the world was shocked by a piece of news coming from Nigeria. The Government has signed a so-called Anti-Gay Law. This happened in 2014, and the prohibition act regarding same sex marriages has concluded everything that has already existed in the criminal code of Nigeria for same sex couples.
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In the criminal law, there are several separate entries regarding the punishment for same sex relationship between two men (initially) or two women. In accordance with the criminal law accepted by southern states of Nigeria, the punishment for same sex relationships makes about 14 years of imprisonment.
This is said about men in the law and women are not mentioned in this regard, however, there’s a neutral word “person” in the law entry, which can be interpreted both ways. This gives grounds for assuming that women will also be punished if caught in same sex relationships.
In northern states, the imprisonment for men who are proved to have same sex relationships also makes 14 years. In case a man is seen being dressed like a woman, he will be punished for up to two years of imprisonment as a vagabond.
However, some northern states (namely, 12 of them) have accepted Shari’a law and the punishment there is much more serious. A person whose “sodomy” is proved can be punished through about one hundred canes or lashes and imprisonment for a year or so (if unmarried) or stoning to death (if married).
Sodomy, in this case, means body contacts “in an unnatural way”. It’s interesting that this definition of sodomy involves not only “unnatural” contacts between two men but also the “unnatural” contact between a man and a woman.
Regarding women and their same sex contacts, the Shari’a law has different variations of punishments. They vary, namely, from fifty lashes and up to five years of imprisonment in some states. In other states, even capital punishment is possible: stoning to death, mostly.
LGBT rights in Nigeria
In the light of the mentioned above positions of the law, it’s possible to say that the rights of LGBT in Nigeria are far from being protected. Revealing one’s nature under the fear of death is a risky adventure. It’s quite dangerous even to show one’s affection to another person of the same sex in public: both can be suspected of homosexuality and punished.
It’s curious that the Constitution of Nigeria has several entries that guarantee equal rights to all citizens of the country. It means the equal quality of health care services and equal employment opportunities regardless of their gender or sexual preferences.
At the same time, none of the most popular political parties in Nigeria has stood for the rights of LGBT community. Even the most liberal smaller parties have expressed their negative attitude towards homosexual relationships and, of course, gay marriages.
Nigeria’s same sex prohibition act: some key points
- All same sex contacts are prohibited. There’s no same sex marriage in Nigeria. All same sex marriages that are concluded outside Nigeria are illegal inside Nigeria. Such a marriage results in 14 years of imprisonment for both partners. Public demonstrations of same sex contacts are punished with 10 years of imprisonment
- No gay organizations, unions, clubs can be registered in Nigeria. Any meetings or public gatherings of LGBT representatives are illegal. They result in 10 years of imprisonment
- Nobody is allowed to go scot-free after assisting or witnessing a couple to create a same sex union or conclude a same sex marriage. Nobody is allowed to work in organizations, clubs or other unions for gay people. Such an offense results in 10 years of imprisonment
Things you never knew about gay marriage in Nigeria
There are some interesting facts you should know about same sex contacts in Nigeria. For example:
- Gay couples have always been there. Even though the attention to same sex relationships have become so acute only recently, the statistics show that every 1 in 5 Nigerians has at least once been involved in same sex contacts
- Opponents of LGBT think that the growing attention to LGBT is a western tendency that’s coming to decay the traditional African culture. In fact, it’s a doubtful statement
- The prohibition act is hardly able to influence the life and intentions of people. Even though religion and law are against it, people are not going to break their nature and start same sex contacts in spite of everything
- Due to the negative attitude, same sex contacts have never been demonstrated much. This gives people a false assumption that there has never been anything like this in Nigeria
- Same sex contacts are demonized as a thing that helps spread HIV/AIDS in Nigeria and Africa, in general. However, unprotected heterosexual contacts are no less dangerous from this point of view
- Fighting LGBT is often simply a show for some political leaders in Nigeria. At the same time, when they are away from public and TV screens, they have nothing against same sex contacts and marriages
- Many people are in regular heterosexual marriages in order to conceal their natural likes. This makes impossible to discover the true number of LGBT persons in Nigeria
- Same sex contacts are treated differently, depending on the involved parties. Male homosexuality is judged more severely than female. Sometimes lesbian couples are not even suspected of having same sex contacts because women are allowed to show more emotions towards each other
- No matter how strict laws are, same sex contacts will always exist. People will always follow their love against all the prohibitions
Well, in the light of the things said, gay relationships in Nigeria are something that can cost a person as much as the whole life. The law is strict but it seems that the stricter the law, the more people will desire to break it.