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New law in Nigeria bans gay meetings

January 13, 2014 • World News


FILE – President Barack Obama meets with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in New York, in this Monday, Sept. 23, 2013 file photo. The Associated Press on Monday Jan. 13 2014 obtained a copy of the previously unannounced Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that was signed by President Jonathan and dated Jan. 7 that bans same-sex marriage and criminalizes homosexual associations, societies and meetings, with penalties of up to 14 years in jail. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday the United States was “deeply concerned” by a law that “dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association, and expression for all Nigerians.” (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — A new law in Nigeria, signed by the president without announcement, has made it illegal for gay people to even hold a meeting. The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act also criminalizes homosexual clubs, associations and organizations, with penalties of up to 14 years in jail.

The act has drawn international condemnation from countries such as the United States and Britain.

Some Nigerian gays already have fled the country because of intolerance of their sexual persuasion, and more are considering leaving, if the new law is enforced, human rights activist Olumide Makanjuola said recently.

Nigeria’s law is not as draconian as a Ugandan bill passed by parliament last month which would punish “aggravated” homosexual acts with life in prison. It awaits the president’s signature.

But Nigeria’s law reflects a highly religious and conservative society that considers homosexuality a deviation. Nigeria is one of 38 African countries — about 70 percent of the continent — that have laws persecuting gay people, according to Amnesty International.

The Associated Press on Monday obtained a copy of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which was signed by President Goodluck Jonathan and dated Jan. 7.

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