Brussels – EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Wednesday condemned Nigeria’s ban on same-sex unions as discriminatory and in contravention of fundamental human rights.
“I am concerned about the signing into law in Nigeria of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act,” Ashton said in a statement. “The European Union is opposed to discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
“It is firmly committed to fundamental human rights and the rule of law in respect of those rights, including freedom of association, conscience and speech and the equality of persons.”
“I am therefore particularly concerned that some provisions of the Act appear to be in contradiction with those fundamental rights, which are themselves guaranteed by Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution, and to be inconsistent with the legal obligations enshrined in a number of international agreements to which Nigeria is a party.”
Gay activists have vowed to fight the Nigerian government over the ban, warning that it legitimises homophobic violence.
The United Nations too has attacked the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2013, accusing President Goodluck Jonathan of trampling over a raft of basic human rights and threatening vital healthcare plans.
But Nigeria’s presidency has dismissed concerns about the law, which threatens up to 14 years in jail for anyone in a same-sex marriage or civil partnership, saying it reflects public opinion.