Nigeria and Gay (LGBT) Rights

The Nigerian Homosexual (LGBT) Bill.
On 18 January 2007, the cabinet of Nigeria approved the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2006 and sent it to the National Assembly for urgent action. The bill, however, did not pass.

On 29 November 2011, the Senate of Nigeria passed the “Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill, 2011”. The bill was passed on 30 May 2013 by the House of Representatives of Nigeria.

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If signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan, the bill would:

Same-sex sexual activity legal No (Penalty: Up to death in Shari’a states; up to 14 years imprisonment in non-Shari’a states)
Equal age of consent No
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only No
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (Incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) No
Same-sex marriages No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military No
Right to change legal gender No
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

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The bill explained:

  • make a marriage contract or civil union entered into between persons of the same sex “invalid and illegal and … not recognized as entitled to the benefits of a valid marriage”
  • make void and unenforceable in Nigeria a marriage contract or civil union entered into between persons of the same sex by virtue of a certificate issued by a foreign country
  • prohibit the solemnization of any marriage or civil union entered into between persons of the same sex “in any place of worship either Church or Mosque or any other place or whatsoever called in Nigeria”
  • prohibit the registration of “gay clubs, societies and organisations, their sustenance, processions and meetings”
  • prohibit the “public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly”
  • make a person who enters into a same sex marriage contract or civil union liable for 14 years’ imprisonment
  • make a person who “registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisation, or directly or indirectly make public show of same sex amorous relationship in Nigeria” liable for 10 years’ imprisonment
  • make a person or group of persons that “witness, abet and aids the solemnization of a same sex marriage or civil union, or supports the registration, operation and sustenance of gay clubs, societies, organisations, processions or meetings in Nigeria” liable for 10 years’ imprisonment
  • define “civil union” for purposes of this law to mean “any arrangement between persons of the same sex to live together as sex partners, and … include such descriptions as adult independent relationships, caring partnerships, civil partnerships, civil solidarity pacts, domestic partnerships, reciprocal beneficiary relationships, registered partnerships, significant relationships, stable unions, etc.”

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On 13 January 2014, The president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan signed into law the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which parliament passed in May 2013. The law follows a similar one passed in Uganda in December 2013, which imposes life imprisonment for some types of homosexual acts.

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