Nigeria gay rights crackdown worries US

2011-12-02 22:37

Lagos - The United States expressed concern on Friday over legislation in Nigeria that seeks to outlaw gay marriage and organisations as well as ban public displays of affection between homosexual couples.

"The United States is concerned about reports of legislation in Nigeria that would restrict expression, assembly or organisation based on sexual orientation or gender identity," a statement issued by the US embassy said.

"The United States believes that all people deserve the full range of human rights and opposes the criminalisation of sexual relations between consenting adults. The United States is watching this matter closely."

Nigeria's senate this week approved the bill, which must still be voted on by the House of Representatives and signed by President Goodluck Jonathan.

The bill spells out a 14-year jail term for anyone entering into same-sex marriage or civil union.

Those who abet or aid such unions could receive 10 years, as would "any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations" -- a provision that seems to target gay advocacy groups as well.

The bill also sets out a 10-year sentence for "any person who... directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationships".

The US statement said "the freedoms of speech, assembly and association are long-standing international commitments and universally recognised."

"Nigeria, as a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, has assumed important obligations on these matters.

We expect the government of Nigeria to act in a manner consistent with those obligations."

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