Lagos - The same sex marriage bill was debated for the first time in the Nigerian Senate in 2011 and is a very controversial piece of legislation.
The bill particularly seeks to outlaw same-sex marriage in Nigeria as well as ban public displays of affection between homosexual couples in the country.
Although yet to be signed by President Goodluck Jonathan, the bill spells out a 14 year jail term for anyone involved in same-sex marriages.
Those abetting or aiding such unions could be given 10 years, as would “any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs…or directly or indirectly makes public show of same sex amorous relationships,” the bill says.
Although countries such as Britain and the US have condemned the Bill, threatening to withhold foreign aids to the country, Nigeria's religious leaders are adamant that the bill is a step in the right direction.
During the debate on the bill recently, Senate President David Mark insisted: “No country has the right to interfere in the way we make our own laws because we don’t interfere in the way others make their own laws. If they won't give us aid because of this, then let them keep their aid.”
Some same sex group have been reported to be lobbying to ensure that President Goodluck Jonathan never signs the bill into law.
While the wait is on for the presidential approval of the law, religious leaders slammed same sex marriages.
Pastor Kenny Adam of the Evangelical Faith Mission in Lagos welcomed the lawmakers’ stance regarding these.
"For the first time, our senators have voted on strong moral grounds. We are a country of sound moral values. Certain things should not just be allowed in this country and same sex marriage is one of such," he said.
He said same sex marriages are evil and forbidden by God.
“The Bible condemns same sex marriage. It is a great sin and any man or nation that engages in it, is an enemy of God.
"When God created man, he made us man and woman. Animals were also made so. On that same principle, he gave us male or female sex organs. This was for procreation. Why would someone now want to change the course of nature? Are we saying that God did not know what he was doing? “Adam said.
Pastor Ikechukwu Obia of the Mountain of Life Church sees the same sex marriage issue as a symptom of a sick world.
"These are signs and symptom of a sick world! Even animals don't have sex with their own gender. If animals can keep to this law of nature and we can't, then it shows that something is definitely wrong with us. I believe that it is a tool that the devil is using to deceive people," said the church leader.
Muslim cleric, Alhaji Kabiru Abdulahi said Islam condemned such marriages in strongest terms.
"Islam is against same sex marriage. Allah forbids it and we the true followers of Mohammed distance ourselves from such a sinful act,” he said.
Bishop Charles Ighele, General Superintendent of the Holy Spirit Mission however had a different perspective.
"I don’t condemn gays. It is just like somebody who has malaria parasites, he needs help. These people need,” he said.
Human rights activist, Dr Joe Okei Odumakin said individuals had a right to be whatever they wanted irrespective of religion.
"As far as I am concerned, same sex marriage is an issue of morality as well as fundamental human right of a person.
"When we are talking about fundamental human rights, it is a matter of choice. Whatever a person chooses to be or do in life is the person’s choice and must be respected," she said.
She advised intending gay couples to embrace diplomacy and advocacy in fighting for their rights.
"Maybe with time, Nigerians will begin to show sympathy for this cause," Odumakin said.
Analyst Joe odumakin said that if the law becomes effective, it will have repercussions for Nigeria.
"The international community will certainly see Nigeria as a nation where human rights are not respected and this will in turn affect their support for us in terms of aids, loans and many other things,” he said .
The senior special assistant to Jonathan, Reuben Abati, said the president “will do the right thing at the right time,” regarding the bill.
“I cannot say whether the president will sign the law or not, but I can certainly say that the president will do the right thing at the right time," he said.
Nigeria is a deeply religious country with it over 160 million population divided between Christian, Muslim and traditional religion lines.
- CAJ News